2022 Activity Report vol.9:Chiba University

Activity Report of Open Application Program 2022 vol.9 (Course B)

Integrated understanding of zoonoses in Paraguay using next−generation sequencing technology

Department of Infection and Host Defense, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University
Report from Associate Professor Kenji Hikosaka

 For this program, we invited six young veterinary researchers from Paraguay to stay for 14 days, from September 26, 2022 to October 9. They were introduced to us by our joint researcher Associate Professor Acosta of Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. The main purpose of inviting them was to do training and face−to−face meetings for the international joint research project Uncovering Distribution of Parasites that Cause Zoonoses in Paraguay, which we are currently making preparations for.

Activity Report Photo 1
Arrival at Chiba University School of Medicine

<September 26>

 The six participants arrived at Narita Airport early in the morning. We visited the Department of Infection and Host Defense Laboratory—where Associate Professor Hikosaka works—at Chiba University's Graduate School of Medicine. The professor gave an explanation of the methods of culturing and detecting parasitic protozoa. In Paraguay, parasites are detected for diagnostic purposes, but no system has been established to culture them, so the researchers listened with great interest while taking notes and videos.

Activity Report Photo 2
Associate Professor Hikosaka of Chiba University's School of Medicine gives an explanation of the facility

<September 27–28>

 After the researchers talked about their facilities (universities) and topics they were researching, Associate Professor Hikosaka gave a lecture on actual protozoa sampling methods and DNA extraction methods used for research. After that, we had a meeting about the joint research in Paraguay.

 The next day, we visited the Meguro Parasitological Museum. The participants were interested in parasites found in Japan and their history, and asked questions. On the way back to Chiba, they met with the ambassador of Paraguay to Japan on short notice, and heard about livestock diseases and measures against infectious diseases in Japan. Afterward, those who wished to join went on a tour of a Japanese veterinary hospital. All of the participants in the program were veterinarians, and they learned about differences with facilities in their home country, among other things.

<September 29–October 1>

 We toured a facility at Chiba University that cultured protozoa, and listened to a lecture on technology for genetically modifying protozoa by Assistant Professor Sakamoto of Chiba University's Department of Infection and Host Defense, and a lecture by Assistant Professor Sekine on the principles of next−generation sequencing technology and how they are used, including a display of sequencing devices. Afterward, we reviewed and discussed our training so far.

<October 2–5>

 We went to Kyoto and visited research facilities at Kyoto University and Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. At Kyoto University's Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi), Associate Professor Yamamoto talked about the facility's research on single cell analysis using its system and next−generation sequencers.

Activity Report Photo 3
Associate Professor Yamamoto at Kyoto University's Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology

 At Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Assistant Professor Murakoshi from the Department of Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine talked about his research on parasitic protozoa and viral infections.

<October 5–8>

 At Chiba University, Dr. Koyama, a part−time lecturer at Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University, gave a lecture on infection control measures used by veterinary clinics in Japan. Afterward, the researchers from Paraguay gave presentations on the results of their training. They all presented their results enthusiastically and spoke passionately about their aspirations for the future. I believe this has been a great asset in advancing our future research activities. We also discussed pathogens (especially parasites) that cause zoonoses in Paraguay, which will be key to our joint research in the future. Before, we had met only through the Internet, but by meeting each other face−to−face, we made great progress in our future research. I realized how important it is to have face−to−face discussions.

 Finally, a ceremony was held to award the researchers' certificates of completion, and the program came to an end. We took a commemorative photo of them with their certificates in hand. There are no universities in Paraguay where veterinarians can obtain a Ph.D., so self−help efforts, as well as support from Japan, are essential for nurturing young researchers. I am confident that this training is a major step forward for veterinary researchers in Paraguay. They left from Narita Airport on October 9 with the results of their training in mind.

Activity Report Photo 4
Commemorative photo with the researchers' certificates of completion