Author Archive

my last post: cheeseburger here I come!!!

This will be my last post.  Yes, it is sad but I am really looking forward to eating a huge cheeseburger when I get back stateside!  Anyway, here are a few tips from my experience if you ever visit Japan:

  1. Railways are the only way to travel.
  2. Look RIGHT then left then right again…traffic comes from the opposite direction.
  3. Bring your umbrella.  Downpours are common during the rainy season and you don’t want to be caught in one….really not fun…really.  It is also extremely humid here so if you are used to dry Colorado weather, you best brace yourself!
  4. Use your coins!  Some of them are worth 500yen (approximately $5) and will become very heavy in your pocket if you do not use them…although I felt kind of rich when my pockets had weight ; )
  5. Be prepared to eat anything!  I have eaten so many different types of seafood (fish, octopus, snail-like creatures, eel, etc.) that I have lost track of them all.
  6. Domo is a handy word.  I have used it for anything from thank you to nice to meet you to excuse me to see you later.
  7. There is nothing like real Japanese sushi (I know I just talked about eating but this one really deserves its own line!).
  8. Most importantly…you have to try sake (pronounced “saw kay”) but be sure to pace yourself…experience has taught me that it can be very potent!

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toothpaste and ice cream

Hi all!  Tonight we had our `welcome party` (even though I will heading back to the States on Monday!).  It was absolutely a treat to talk to a lot of the main people here at the NIRS colmplex…an oppertunity that few will ever recieve.  Anyway, it was great to see that they really enjoyed all of our efforts and company.  It was a very gody experience to know that these people appreciate us and I do not feel worthy to shine their shoes!  I want to take this oppertunity to say that everyone here has been extremely nice, courteous, and more than willing to make our stay as comfortable as possible.  I will really miss all of the hospitality and the Japanese culture.  I look forward to coming back to NIRS soon with Kato sensei (my thesis advisor) to do more research and experience more of Japanese cluture.  Speaking of which, we had a chance to go to a festival here in Inage after the dinner party.  It was crazy packed but extremely cool.  Afterward, we picked up some ice cream.  Did you know that they actually have ice cream in a tube here?  I know, I was skeptical too!  But after the initial frustration of figuring out how to eat it, it was actually tastefully delicious!  And how awesome is the name Coolish?!  Sorry, I felt compelled to let you know that if you are ever in Japan it is a must try (along with many other things)!  Okay, I am going to bed now…another big experiment tomorrow night (10pm-12am) so I have to get my beauty sleep (no, it really doesn`t help my looks!).  Goodnight!


midnight madness

hi all!  let me tell you, it has been one hell of a week!!  …so i will keep it short and sweet today.  we have worked in HIMAC twice and with the cyclotron and x-ray machine once each.  both of our HIMAC beam times were from 10pm-12am.  that means that we had to prep all of our samples for irradiation ahead of time, irriadate them, and then finish all of the experimentation before we could go to bed!!  to say that I may have been like a zombie this week is probably an understatement!  today, I will be traveling to Gifu University to meet with some of the researchers there.  i will also be able to check out their veterinary school to see how they practice over here.  how awesome is that?!  i was able to take a few pictures of HIMAC (produces heavy ions) and the cyclotron (produces the proton beam).  these machines are huge!  HIMAC (a synchotron) is the size of an entire building!!  the picture below is just a picture of one of the output rooms and the door that seals it (the door is unbelievable…it is like a huge lead cork that plugs up the room).

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It still amazes me that cancer can be so simple and yet complex all at the same time.  How is it that one cell that is outside the normal cell checkpoints can cause so much damage?  Much of the work that I have been doing here deals with cancer cells and the effects that radiation has on them.  Using radiation, we can damage cellular DNA.  If there is enough damage, cell death ensues.  This is the basic principle behind radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Below are a few pictures of some chromosomes that have suffered DNA damage (with subsequent repair and misrepair).  The image on the top is actually of a cell that failed to properly divide and now has double the number of chromosomes that it should have.

The facility here at NIRS (national institute of radiological sciences) is unique because it houses HIMAC, one of three accelerators in the world that utilize heavy ions (carbon in this case) as a radiation treatment for cancer.  I say it is unique because the carbon beam is very effective at specifically targeting tumor tissues while sparing normal, healthy tissue.  This technology greatly reduces side effects associated with radiation therapy.  Additionally, the carbon beam is still very effective on hypoxic tumors (those lacking oxygen).  Photon radiation treatments (utilizing X-rays and gamma-rays) are ineffective at treating these tumors because they require oxygen to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can then cause damage to the cell and induce death.  Later today I will be starting my first experiments working toward my masters thesis!  I am totally stoked to be able to start!  I will post more later when I have some more information about the study.


military institute pics

here are a few pics from the military academy…

military institute

Hi all!  I had the privelage of attending a military institute today in Japan in order to hear several lectures.  The campus was absolutely stunning and there were trees everywhere.  I was particularly drawn in by their assortment of bonzai trees by the front gate (I have several bonzais myself).

The lectures were power points in English but presented in Japanese.  I do not speak much Japanese yet but it was still an eye-opening experience.  The military presenter showcased his (and his colleages) research excellently.  It was all about the use of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as a radioprotectant against gastrointestinal destruction following an acute radiation exposure.  Apparently, if given before the exposure event, ascorbate`s antioxidant properties prevent the reactive oxygen species (generated from a radiation exposure) from damaging DNA and inducing apoptosis (thus leading to acute inflammation and eventually somatic death).  It does not really sound like much but it lends new meaning to `an apple (or in this case an orange) a day keeps the doctor away!`  I do not have any pictures for you tonight but I will get them downloaded and up in the next day or so.  I hope you all have a great night!!



Hi everyone!!  My name is Chuck and I will be spending the next month in Chiba, Japan doing research with the National Institute of Radiological Sciences.  I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you all in the weeks to come.  More soon!!