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Lecturer Kaori Sugihara received The 4th Award for a Brilliant Female Researcher (The JST President Award)

 

On 6th November 2022, Lecturer Kaori Sugihara, Institute of Industrial Science, Chemical System Engineering, received The 4th Award for a Brilliant Female Researcher (The JST President Award).

 

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The 4th Award for a Brilliant Female Researcher (The JST President Award)

As part of the promotion of the activities of female researchers, this award recognizes female researchers who are conducting excellent research and other activities that contribute to a sustainable society and future, as well as institutions that are promoting their activities. The program is sponsored by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and covers a wide range of fields, including basic research at universities and research institutes, engineering, product development, a large-scale research that involves many people, product development at companies, as well as institutions that promote the activities of female researchers.

 

About awarded research

Dr. Sugihara has achieved remarkable results in the field of nanomaterials, focusing on lipids that constitute cell membranes, and has recently expanded her research to antimicrobial peptides and non-woven masks for medical use. In addition to basic research, she has launched product development projects and serves as a research leader for a number of external funds, and is engaged in a wide range of research activities with a spirit of challenge. In terms of social contribution other than research, she has been active in giving lectures on career paths based on her own experience as a principal investigator in Europe and organizing events for female junior high and high school students at her institution.

 

Your impression & future plan

I am conducting research using antimicrobial peptides to develop new drugs against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (bacteria that are ineffective against antibiotics). It is feared that a pandemic of resistant bacteria will occur in the near future, where the infection rate can be similar to that of COVID-19 with potentially a much higher mortality rate. Antimicrobial peptides are considered to be a promising drug candidate for the coming crisis, but they have the disadvantage of high side effects. Last year, we discovered the "double co-operative effect," in which mixing different types of antimicrobial peptides increases toxicity against bacteria and decreases toxicity against human cells. By elucidating the principle of this phenomenon, we aim to develop safe antimicrobial agents with high efficacy and low side effects.

Throughout my career, I have been trying to commit to high-quality research, commercialization of the research output, and to share my experiences with the next generation, especially young women, so that I can motivate them for the research career. The fact that these activities are appreciated by the prize is a great encouragement for me. I would also like to thank my past academic supervisors and the people around me who have supported me to this point. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you.