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Hitoshi Okamoto 2018 Election Statement
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Team Leader, Laboratory for Neural Circuit Dynamics of Decision Making
RIKEN Center for Brain Science



I have been the project leader of the National Bioresource Project of Japan (NBRP): Zebrafish in the past 15 years.

In this project, together with Koichi Kawakami at National Inst. of Genetics (Mishima, Japan) and Shin-ichi Higashijima at National Institute for Basic Biology (Okazaki, Japan), we have been collecting the mutant and genetically manipulated zebrafish lines which were generated in Japan, and distributing them throughout the world.

I have served as the organizer of the zebrafish genetics and development meeting and the PI meeting.

I was also involved in foundation of the annual small fish (zebrafish and Medaka) meeting in Japan and the biannual Asia-Oceanian zebrafish PI meeting. 


Candidate Statement:

Since I set up the lab in 1991 at National Institute for Basic Biology back from USA, I have been engaged in the research of neural circuit development and control of emotional behaviors by neural circuit. Throughout this period, our research group has been trying to contribute to the community by pioneering the development of new research technology and fields, such as development of the transgenic strains for labeling specific population of neurons, screening of mutants by using such transgenic strains, the new technology for photo-activating mRNA, and application of the genetic manipulation of neural circuits for analyzing the emotional behavior of adult zebrafish. I have made it as my principle to distribute those technology and research resources available to the community without condition once they are published.  The National Bioresource Project has been the natural expansion of this principle toward the all zebrafish-related research resource generated in Japan. Thanks to the contribution of the high-quality researchers in Japan, this project has been successful in distributing hundreds of strains throughout the world and contributing to the promotion of research using zebrafish in the world community. I also served as the Chair of the Asia Pascific Regional Committee of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO APRC). Through this activity, I have established the personal networks of the researchers in this region.  

Based on these past experience, I would like to seek the board membership to represent the voices of the researchers especially of this region in which the research using zebrafish has been expanding and advancing very rapidly. During my tenure, I also want to contribute globally for advocating the usefulness of zebrafish for new research purposes such as cognitive neuroscience and drug screening for mental diseases (for example in my expertise).

I think that the IZFS can contribute a lot to represent a cohesive voices of zebrafish researchers to emphasis the usefulness and significance of zebrafish research both to the general public, researchers of other fields and policy makers.

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