For our third Author Spotlight, we contacted Dr. Hisanori Fukunaga from the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queen’s University in Belfast to talk about his article Low-dose radiation-induced risk in spermatogenesis that can be read here.
Why is this article important?
Since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s 1677 discovery of spermatozoa in a semen sample, many studies have been conducted to better understand the process of spermatogenesis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms of radiation-induced risks for spermatogenesis, especially low-dose risks, remain unclear. Furthermore, evidence characterising transgenerational effects following exposure of spermatogonial cells are controversial even now.
This article will help all radiation researchers to have a clear understanding of low-dose radiation-induced risks to male fertility focusing on potential mechanisms of low-dose radiation-induced damage on spermatogenesis, epidemiological studies of environmental radiation effects on sperm parameters and transgenerational effects from exposure of spermatogonial stem cells.
How and/or when did you get into this field of study?
As a medical doctor, I worked for a couple of years at Soma General Hospital in Fukushima, Japan after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident.
Many years have passed, and many people all over the world may have forgotten about that tragedy. However, health concerns about the radioactive substances released from the meltdown of the reactors at the FDNPP are widespread among residents of northeastern Japan, even now. This is because there remain unknown ramifications of biological exposure to radiation. Further study of radiation effects on human health is urgently necessary.
In light of this need, to pursue advanced study in radiation biology and oncology, I am now studying at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, under the supervision of Prof. Kevin M. Prise, who is a leading radiobiologist.
Where do you see your field in the next 10 years?
Winston Churchill said, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
It is difficult for me to predict the future, and I hope many optimists in our field will find many scientific issues in every difficulty and develop our research community. One thing I think will become more important is the impact of personalised medicine, leading to the potential of personalised radiation risk assessment.
Is there any particular article you published that launched your career?
Fukunaga H, Kumakawa H. Disaster management at Soma General Hospital in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Japan Medical Association Journal 2014;57:331–4.
Fukunaga H, Yokoya A. Low-dose radiation risk and individual variations in radiation sensitivity in Fukushima. Journal of Radiation Research 2016;57:98–100.
＊Selected as a ‘Special Article Collection – Fukushima’ by Oxford University Press
Fukunaga H, Yokoya A, Taki Y, Prise KM. Radiobiological implications of Fukushima nuclear accident for personalized medical approach. Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine 2017;242:77-81.
These papers really encouraged me to pursue a career in radiation research.
Do you have any advice for Postdoctoral Researchers?
Not in particular. It is always important to try your best in everything.