Meet Ph.D candidate Atsushi Usami: FEMS2019 Congress Attendance Grantee


Science knows no borders, and we work with microbiologists across the work to ensure the best research gets underway. Ph.D candidate Atsushi Usami is a microbiologist performing research in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at Nagoya University, Japan. He has been awarded a Congress Attendance Grant to help him attend FEMS2019 this July (7-11), in Glasgow, Scotland.

We interviewed Atsushi Usami to gain an insight into his research, what working as a scientist is like in Japan, and to gain his thoughts on our upcoming Congress:

What are you currently working on in your research, and what is your field of microbiology?

”My research is the bioproduction of high-value-added compounds by metabolic engineering.”

What aspects of FEMS2019 in Glasgow are you looking forward to?

”I will be honoured to attend FEMS2019 with the FEMS congress grant. I’m confident that all programs and discussion between various microbiological specialties ranging from basic research to applied will be a valuable experience for me. In particular, I am looking forward to topics on Biotechnology/Synthetic biology/Systems Biology, because these are my research interest. Also, I would like to discuss science while drinking Scotch whisky!”

What are the challenges for a young scientist in Japan currently?

”Academic positions in universities and institutes are limited, although it may not be only in Japan. Even after getting a Ph.D., Japanese young scientists have to work in unstable forms of employment. To get an academic position, young scientists need to publish more creative papers in a short time. Hence, they frequently collaborate with scientists in different fields.”

How do you think we can encourage further collaborations between microbiologists and microbiology societies in Europe and Japan?

”I think that further collaborations will be advanced if we can publish more interesting papers than before and introduce more detailed commentary and perspective through [social media networks].”

In your opinion, what can microbiologists in Europe and FEMS learn from microbiologists in Japan, and vice versa?

”I think that we can learn different research styles from each other. Specifically, microbiologists from Europe and FEMS are familiar with developing their research more globally. Japanese microbiologists are actively promoting the research of basic to applied and the establishment of bio-venture from their laboratory. My superviser, Prof. Katsutoshi Hori, also launched a bio-venture company selling useful microorganisms.”

What is your favourite microbe, and why?

”My favourite microbe is Acinetobacter sp. Tol 5, which is the nonpathogenic toluene-degrading bacterium harboring the unique adhesive nanofiber protein AtaA (Microb. Cell Fact. 16, 123-133, 2017.). Moreover, Tol 5 metabolizes diverse hydrocarbons, shows tolerance to organic solvents, and can be genetically engineered. From these characteristics, I think that Tol 5 has an advantage to mass bioproduction of useful substances that conventional host microbes cannot produce due to toxicity. I would like to make Tol 5 a better platform strain for bioproduction than E. coli in the future.”

We have recently commenced with the creation of an ambassador network, including Japanese Ambassador Prof. Ken-ichi Yoshida, to extend the role of FEMS beyond the borders of Europe.

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