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September 7, 2023

CiRA Research Internship Program Student Interview vol. 1
-A First Dive into Bioethics Research-

Ahyeon Jeon (University of Göttingen) holds her CiRA Research Internship Program certificate at a connecting corridor in a CiRA research building.

By Kelvin Hui, Ph.D.
CiRA Research Promoting Office

Having been studying embryology and cell biology at the University of Göttingen in Germany, Ahyeon Jeon—a third-year undergraduate student—got her first hands-on experience with bioethics research through the CiRA Research Internship Program this year.

Jeon got interested in bioethics following a class on this subject during her last school year. As a result, she joined the internship program to work under the guidance of Dr. Misao Fujita (Professor and Head of the Uehiro Research Division for iPS Cell Ethics) for three weeks starting in mid-July.

During this time, Jeon researched the regulations on human embryo research in her home country, South Korea. To her surprise, she found not only that every country has different laws on research and clinical use using human stem cells, but she noted South Korea appears to have no specific regulations on using iPS cells. Furthermore, whereas many countries involved in stem cell research worldwide continue to adopt the 14-day rule, previously set by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) in 2016 but subsequently relaxed in 2021, South Korea does not follow this guideline and instead limits human embryo research up to the formation of the primitive streak.

Jeon noted that though it was tough to be thrown right into research on bioethics without any previous experience in the research area, it was a vitalizing experience, and she is now considering it for her graduate studies. "Before, I was heavily interested in embryology, but now I am also really interested in bioethics because different countries have different regulations for stem cell and human embryo research, so I found it super fascinating," she said of her change in research interest. Indeed, she credits the internship experience as inspiration to perhaps return to Kyoto University for her Ph.D. after finishing her bachelor’s degree in Germany this upcoming school year.

Aside from research at CiRA, Jeon got to spend time in the Kansai region and visited various tourist hotspots, such as the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, the Arashiyama bamboo forest, the scenic ocean views of Ise, and the cute deer roaming freely in Nara.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Kyoto, Jeon!

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