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Uesugi Laboratory

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Why study chemical biology?

Life is driven by chemistry. All biological events, from gene expression to energy production, are driven by sequences of chemical events. Chemical understanding and manipulation of biological processes through chemical biology technology will open up new avenues in drug discovery and medical science as well as in chemistry and biology themselves.

By pursuing chemical biology, you will be able to learn both chemistry and biology at the highest of levels. Once you master chemical biology skills and thinking, you will be able to see biological processes through the eyes of a chemist and chemical processes through the eyes of a biologist. Your multifaceted skills will give you a unique advantage in research. It may be YOU who revolutionizes your field!


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The Uesugi Lab is looking for highly motivated international graduate students.

Majority of the international students in the Uesugi Lab receive MEXT Scholarship, a generous fellowship provided by Japanese government to cover travel and living cost.

Master’s Program (Graduate School of Medicine)(*)

*WhenWhat to do
About 1.5 to 2 years prior to the undergraduate graduation1) All interested candidates should email Professor Uesugi with their CV and request an online interview.
2) Only short-listed candidates will be contacted by the Uesugi Lab to determine their online interview date.
3) At the online interview, Professor Uesugi will explain the research direction of the lab and discuss mutual interests; each candidate talks with each member of the lab.
About 1.5 to 2 years prior to the undergraduate graduationSuccessful candidates will receive a recommendation from Professor Uesugi (**) and are encouraged to apply for MEXT Scholarship through embassies. Instructions for the MEXT scholar application will be provided by the Uesugi Lab.
April or July (1 year prior to the enrollment)Arrival in Kyoto under MEXT scholarship
From April to JulyApply to the Graduate School of Medicine (Two-year Master’s Program in Medical Sciences). https://www.med.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/apply/entrance_examination/
AugustEntrance Examination (English based)
Following AprilEnrollment


(*)The duration of the master's program at the Graduate School of Medicine is two years. After successful completion of the master’s program, students can opt to continue into the three-year doctoral program (Doctor of Medical Science).


Doctoral Program (Graduate School of Medicine・Four-year Program in Medicine)

*WhenWhat to do
About 1.5 to 2 year prior to the master graduation1) All interested candidates should email Professor Uesugi with their CV and request an online interview.
2) Only short-listed candidates will be contacted by the Uesugi Lab to determine their online interview date.
3) At the online interview, Professor Uesugi will explain the research direction of the lab and discuss mutual interests; each candidate gives a 10-minute presentation and talks with each member of the lab.
About 1.5 to 2 year prior to the master graduationSuccessful candidates will receive a recommendation from Professor Uesugi (**) and are encouraged to apply for MEXT Scholarship through embassies. Instructions for the MEXT scholar application will be provided by the Uesugi Lab.
April or September (1 year prior to the enrollment)Arrival in Kyoto under MEXT scholarship
SeptemberApply to the Graduate School of Medicine (Four-year Doctoral Program in Medicine). https://www.med.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/apply/entrance_examination/
NovemberEntrance Examination (English based)
Following AprilEnrollment


(**)Standard for recommendation screening
Every year, many brilliant students visit the chemical biology laboratory. During such visits, we create opportunities to discuss the students’ goals and visions. These discussions help us determine whether and how Uesugi Laboratory could help the candidate students in their future careers and achievement of goals. Candidates that receive recommendations are selected based on comprehensive evaluation of eligibility, taking into consideration opinions from every member of the laboratory. Normally, recommendations are given to up to two students every year.

Training and Research Environment

Creativity is an essential ingredient for scientific endeavors. To inspire individual creativity and promote group performance, the Uesugi Lab adheres to a small-group policy and minimizes unnecessary administrative burdens on postdoctoral fellows and students. With a unique approach that combines inspiration, analysis, and implementation in pursuit scientific excellence, and with an abiding passion for research, we drive ourselves to learn collaboratively and discover new ideas. While the small-group policy enables us to provide financial support to every student in the Doctoral Program, Japanese students are highly encouraged to apply for fellowship programs to supplement their academic pursuits, such as the Research Fellowship for Young Scientists by JSPS. Almost all international students of the lab are sponsored by the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. Research assistantship may be awarded to the doctoral students who are not supported by any fellowship programs, and teaching assistantship to master's students. Our lab provides each student with a desk with a partition, a lab bench, and a refrigerator. Our members are from diverse backgrounds: 30% are synthetic chemists, 30% are biologists, and 30% are both. Students will be given hands-on training in organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cellular biology. On top of the technical training, students will be exposed to a range of learning opportunities to cultivate the skills necessary for successful scientific careers: presentation, problem solving, and idea generation. By the time they complete the Doctoral Program, students will have mastered all the know-hows possessed by the chemical biology lab. Our lab meetings: two types of seminars and Chemical Tracing Club (Detective Quiz of Small Molecules) are held in English. By participating in these trainings, students will be able to learn how to discuss science in English.

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Lab Meeting

Our lab-meeting schedule consists of two series of presentations. In one, a discussion leader talks about a short paper that he or she thinks VERY interesting (every one of scientists has a couple of such papers that he/she never forgets), and we discuss why the paper is exciting. The goal is to deduce the principles or concepts behind interesting papers and apply them to our own research. The discussion leader should e-mail a PDF version of the paper to everybody in the group before the presentation. In the other series, a lab member gives a 15-min talk about his/her own research and summarizes his/her progress. The goal is to polish presentation/discussion skills and to discuss the experimental results. Your presentation needs to convey concepts and results in a very clear and concise manner. A good presentation also infects the audience with the excitement of the speaker. A chairperson is assigned to each presentation. The chairperson needs to introduce the speaker and ask good and constructive questions. In both series, speakers are encouraged to use a projector and required to speak English for the presentation. Questions and answers can be made in Japanese. However, it is always encouraged to speak English. If Japanese was used for part of discussion, Dr. Uesugi will provide English translation of a summary of the discussion to non-Japanese members.

Chemical Tracing Club (Detective Quiz of Small Molecules)

It is a challenge to predict the biological activity or target(s) of a small organic molecule from its chemical structure. The aim of the Chemical Tracing Club is to train our eyes for such prediction by discussing structure-activity relationships of reported bioactive compounds. In the club, we freely discuss structures, pharmacological effects, and molecular targets of bioactive compounds. Dr. Uesugi will pick up one recently published molecule every week and assign it to the discussion leader of the week. The discussion leader traces the structure of the assigned molecule back to that of the original lead compound, to investigate other structure classes that target the same protein, and to extract the possible chemical signatures for the biological activity. Other members of the laboratory can independently investigate the structure of the molecule to stimulate the discussion. The discussion leader should make a summary (illustrations and figures in one page) before the discussion and e-mail a PDF version of the summary to everybody in the group. The discussion leader must speak English for the presentation. Questions and answers can be made in Japanese. For non-Japanese members, Dr. Uesugi will summarize the discussion in English right after each club.

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Last-modified: 2021-05-27 (木) 14:36:09 (616d)