On 27 April, the Society of Japanese Women Scientists (SJWS) announced Assistant Professor Mito Shinohara, of the Graduate School of Medicine, as the winner of its 23rd Early-Career Investigator Award.
SJWS was founded in 1958 to promote friendship and knowledge-sharing among women scientists across different disciplines, and to advance their professional standing, with the ultimate goal of contributing to world peace.
The Early-Career Investigator Award seeks to encourage and support women researchers and scientists by honoring those who have 1) made outstanding achievements and demonstrated promising talent in natural sciences, and 2) endeavored to advance SJWS' objectives, and are regarded as role models in their fields.
This year's award recognized Assistant Professor Shinohara's work in "elucidating the self-renewal and maintenance mechanisms of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs)". This achievement has contributed significantly to the understanding of the biology of SSCs, which are the source of spermatogenesis, and to the development of a new reproductive technology utilizing these cells.
SSCs are present only in small numbers in the testes, making them extremely difficult to analyze or modify. Assistant Professor Shinohara overcame this issue by developing a long-term culture system, which has made large quantities of SSCs easily available for analysis and genetic modification. Studying the cells, she elucidated SSCs' self-renewal mechanism, and revealed that they have much higher genomic stability than embryonic and other multipotent stem cells. In addition, investigating SSCs' in vivo dynamics, she discovered that they have an extremely long functional life-span.
The award ceremony was held 27 May, following SJWS' regular meeting and as part of a commemorative lecture.
- Society of Japanese Women Scientists (SJWS)