Former Female PIs
formerly Unit Leader of Laboratory for Reconstitutive Developmental Biology, now Group Leader at EMBL Barcelona
There was excellent support on the administrative side by staff who could quickly help when we ran into difficulties. Having a dedicated lab assistant in our group was also crucial, as she handled much of the paperwork and lab background matters, saving me a lot of hassle. These factors allowed me to focus thoroughly on science—something unique for a young PI. My husband and I were also on the side of working long hours, and RIKEN allowed that lifestyle of full commitment toward science.
I also felt comfortable that I was not the only female PI, and that there were many excellent female PIs at the Center before me. I received a lot of positive influence from my colleagues and visiting scientists during my time at RIKEN, which also led me to shift and expand my research direction.
formerly Team Leader of Laboratory for Neocortical Development, now Associate Professor at Waseda University
After having spent many years abroad in the U.S. I was initially hesitant to return to Japan to start my first independent position as I was wary of the hierarchical structure that exists in Japanese institutions. However, I did not encounter any cultural shock and was pleasantly surprised by the ease at which I was able to discuss science with senior PIs, who cared very much about the progress of younger PIs’ research. They often provided guidance and suggestions to my research.
I found RIKEN (CDB) to be supportive not only because of the startup fund and the annual core funding, but also because of the strong administrative support provided by the Center. For example, organizing scientific meetings and workshops was easy because of the help provided by the Meeting Office, which dealt with all logistical and administrative matters while PIs focused on the scientific program.
I had my child a few years after starting my group and it is without a doubt challenging to balance both childcare and career at the same time. I was able to juggle both by working flexible hours so that I could fulfill both jobs according to my schedule. One support system that I found beneficial was the subsidy program to hire support staff for researchers who are pregnant, raising children, or caring for ill/older family members. I was able to hire a part-time technician to help me with lab work in the first year of my child’s birth. Having an additional pair of hands in the lab was definitely helpful.
formerly Team Leader of Laboratory for Histogenetic Dynamics, now Professor at Tohoku University
formerly Project Leader of Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, now President CEO of Vision Care Co., Ltd.
formerly Team Leader of Laboratory for Developmental Genomics, now Professor at Tohoku University
formerly Team Leader of Laboratory for Body Planning, now Professor at Kyoto University
formerly Unit Leader, now Assistant Professor at Okayama University