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Mar. 22, 2013

Working together with RIKEN researchers

Tatsuyuki Aoshima, Chief

photo of Tatsuyuki Aoshima

Research Ethics Section Safety Division

How did you join RIKEN?

I was looking for a job related to scientific research. RIKEN was an attractive choice for me because it is a renowned international research hub in Japan, and its papers are often cited. I was offered a job in the Safety Division at the RIKEN Kobe Institute, and I believe I made the right decision to work here as I am really enjoying taking part in a variety of scientific studies in my day-to-day work.

Please tell us about your work at RIKEN.

The Safety Division at RIKEN plays a central role in creating new rules for scientific research in Japan. In fact, the government has adopted some safety guidelines developed by RIKEN. In collaboration with researchers, I investigate the correct application procedures required for research projects and ensure that researchers’ studies adhere to established laws and safety guidelines. Previously I was engaged in research projects dealing with human embryonic stem cells in Kobe, but now I am in charge of application procedures to obtain approval for the clinical translation of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in Wako. I have always worked in the Safety Division, but the application procedures vary depending on the research I am involved in.

What have been the highlights of your time at RIKEN so far?

When researchers come up with new ideas for research projects, they need to consult with the Safety Division first to ensure that the projects are going to be legitimate. They appreciate all my efforts when the application is approved successfully, which is very rewarding. When the research I have been involved in achieves significant results, especially when they are reported widely in the media, I am very proud of RIKEN’s achievement and I am glad to have played a part in the study’s success. It makes me feel like I am a researcher on the team and it is extremely challenging and fulfilling to be involved in such cutting-edge research.

What is the best thing about working at RIKEN?

At RIKEN, managers and non-managers work closely with one another. We are encouraged to freely make suggestions to improve procedures and to highlight both positive and negative points in our feedback to senior staff. We also work closely with the researchers. Sometimes I need to request them to stringently follow laws and guidelines, and it can be challenging when we encounter problems getting approvals. Needless to say, we all share in the delight of achieving research results after an application is approved thanks to our combined painstaking efforts. This is the moment that makes me feel like I am a member of the research team.

What would you say to other people considering joining RIKEN?

People may think that a scientific background would be helpful in understanding the details of research. Even if you work in an area that is different from what you have studied at university, you can still make a contribution to research projects at RIKEN. A scientific background is not essential; what is most important is to have a clear focus in your work, and an ability to work effectively in a busy, fast-paced environment.