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February 5, 2024

CiRA Research Internship Program Student Interview vol. 7
-Enjoying iPS Cell Research and Karaoke in Kyoto-

Khaleel Bashir
(Morehouse School of Medicine)

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

He was finally able to use his Japanese. Khaleel Bashir, a second-year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine in the United States, had been studying Japanese for a long time and longed for the day when he could put it to good use.

For six weeks from June to mid-July in 2023, Bashir worked in the laboratory of Dr. Hidetoshi Sakurai (Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Application) with Dr. Tomoya Uchimura (Program-Specific Research Center Assistant Professor) to create 2D and 3D cocultures of induced muscle stem cells and induced mesenchymal stem cells (iMSCs) from iPS cells to determine whether iMSCs could accelerate muscle stem cell maturation.

"I was drawn to the injury-healing potential of creating 3D muscle tissue from iPS cells," explained Bashir. "I believe such technology will revolutionize the medical field within my lifetime and wish to contribute to that end."

At home in Atlanta, Georgia, in the U.S., Bashir works with the circadian rhythm gene, BMAL1, in retinal cells of the eye to determine how it affects cell functions. When asked why he came to Kyoto for the annual CiRA Research Internship Program to study stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, he said, "While I am interested in chronobiology research, I am also very interested in regenerative medicine as a soon-to-be medical professional."

Having believed he would obtain his M.D. degree and practice medicine as a career, Bashir realized through the internship experience that he may wish to return to graduate school for a Ph.D. once he establishes his medical career and one day work on collaborative research with CiRA in regenerative medicine.

Aside from research, he took full advantage of the internship experience at CiRA, enjoying social activities organized by CiRA members, such as Language.Exchange@CiRA.Lunch and CiRA Games Night. Outside of CiRA, Bashir went to the famous Gion Festival with his lab mates and had fun meeting other medical students from Kyoto University. "I absolutely enjoyed my time in Kyoto!" he said.

As he can speak Japanese, he said that "getting to know all the local mom-and-pop shops near my apartment was a fantastic change of pace." He also mentioned that he especially loved going to Jankara (all-you-can-drink karaoke bars) by himself after finishing experiments at CiRA, adding, "I can't wait to come back again soon!"

Sakurai Lab members

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