Brain Science, makes an opportunity to create a communication platform for researchers in different fields

Jun. 27, 2022

Xuchi Pan

PhD student in the Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, @PXuchi

My motivation
Glycans are sugar-based polymers that coat cells and decorate most proteins, forming glycoproteins and proteoglycans (proteins that are heavily glycosylated). In the previous researches of our lab, we have proved that galactose-containing glycans are important in bone marrow homing of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). My research is focused on the affects and mechanisms of proteins and glycans in HSCs homing. Although on the surface this topic seems totally unrelated to brain science, my lab in Kyoto University has established mice lacking glycans and shown that a glycan deficit affects adhesion of neural stem cells to laminin, leading to death at the age of 4 weeks.
Glycans are therefore important in the brain, and I thought that expanding my knowledge on neurons would help me learn more about the relationship between glycans and the formation of nerve cells and, furthermore, the mechanisms leading to the death of our mice.

Improving my skills
To be honest, the application process for this program was not easy. It required writing a report on a paper and a recommendation from a professor. But this made me cherish every lecture and workshop I attended even more during the nine-month program.
The online lectures given mostly by CBS PIs were interesting and covered many areas of brain science, including brain development, language acquisition, neuronal cells, glia, and neural stem cells, which play important roles in the brain, and new technologies used in neuron analysis. Each lecture was accompanied by a large number of references, which allowed us to read up on the details of the research in our spare time. In addition to the lectures, the workshops were also informative. We separated into groups of 3 to 4 people and gave presentations. Although we came from different schools and study fields, and had not yet acquired much neuroscience knowledge, we spared no effort to do what we were each good at. I do not consider myself as a good communicator, but the workshops gave me opportunities to improve my communication skills through talking with students of different backgrounds. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the final presentation was success!

This is the place for you
BSTP is more of a family than a course. Not only did the PIs, TAs, staff share the research they were doing, they also gave us lots of advice on daily life and our careers, which made me feel warm and welcome here.
Reflecting on my experience over the last nine months, I am proud how much I have grown. You can decide to participate just for university credits, but you will soon learn that if you work hard here, you can get bountiful harvest. I think most of the students attended the program know what they want to be. If you have clear goals, you can gain a lot of ideas here, even opportunities for a career. My time in BSTP has been valuable for helping me realize what I was lacking and that I should work harder to become a better person and a better researcher. I am so proud of myself for having decided to apply for BSTP, and persisting my passion for learning throughout the program.