Motokazu Uchigashima

Associate Professor, Dept of Cellular Neuropathology


Dr Uchigashima obtained his PhD from Hokkaido University and worked as an assistant professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, followed by a visiting scholar at University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is currently working on research on the distribution of synaptic molecules in the BRI Department of Cellular Neuropathology.

Tell us about the research you've been doing.

There is a lot of information being exchanged in our brains. A synapse plays a prominent role in this. Understanding synapses is an important topic in neuroscience, as they are known to undergo functional changes during memory and learning, and abnormalities in synapses are thought to be a cause of neuropsychiatric disorders. I have been using antibodies to visualize the distribution of molecules to reveal the molecular composition of synapses.

What attracts you to do research at BRI?

I think that the size of the institute is just right. BRI is smaller than other research institute on neuroscience, but it is a good place to carry out cutting edge research by a small group of people, and we have many opportunities to connect with other labs, which creates a good environment for interdisciplinary research. Our research is backed up not only by the facilities of high quality, but also by the competent administrative and technical staff who are like family.

What research are you currently working on and what are your future goals?

I find it fascinating to see neurons through a microscope that no one else in the world has seen yet. Molecular labeling techniques, in which BRI excels, are making it possible to observe the functional molecules of synapses from whole living neurons.
The ultimate goal of my research is to observe and understand the behaviour of all the molecules that make up the synapse, the fundamental element of neurotransmission, under brain activity. This is a technically challenging goal at the moment, but I hope to apply research at various level being carried out at BRI to create new breakthroughs.

Interviewed in January 2021.