The origin of my desire to become a researcher
Experience as a Principle Investigator (PI) at Harvard University
After completing my residency in 1998, I went to Harvard University's Brigham & Women's Hospital to study under Professor Krishna Kandarpa in the Division of Angiography and IVR. At that time, I was still young, had little research experience, and did not know my way around. There were no Japanese people around me in my department. Professor Kandarpa treated me as a guest and did not expect much from me. I was not given any particular theme, but was simply told to think of something on my own. Three months after I came to the U.S., I noticed that I would not be able to do research or secure a position without a "grant" (public research funding). I had a vague feeling that I should do nothing and go back to my home country next year, or should try to get a "grant".
When I asked my boss, Professor Kandarpa, what I should do, he said, "Why don't you apply for a research grant from the American Society for IVR or NIH?" At that time, I had little duty other than attending clinical conferences and IVR cases. I had been interested in "prevention of restenosis after stenting" since that time, and I thought to myself that I would make it my theme. So I went to the library and read a lot of literature on the subject.
I don't know how much literature I read, but I carried around my "thesis bag" day in and day out, searching for papers whenever I could find time. So I decided to write a research proposal on a new theme, "Gene therapy for restenosis after coronary stenting," based on my vast search of papers by my own imagination and hints from the vast literature.
I completed my research proposal in two weeks and submitted it to Professor Kandarpa. He looked really surprised and said, "You can write? It's good, isn't it? But... this is too expensive. Since you can write like this, can't you rewrite it so that it costs less? Especially when it comes to genetics, it's going to be tough," he said, and left for a three-week conference. I spent the next three days worrying over it, and rewrote it on another feasible topic, but three days after I felt that there was no novelty. So I immediately tore it up and threw it away. I thought "Yes, I was desperate", and I decided to further refine my original research plan and resubmit it to my professor in three weeks. I spent three weeks without sleeping almost every day. When I came back, I submitted my research proposal to my professor with great enthusiasm. The professor looked surprised, but he understood my enthusiasm and suggested that I go for a large grant. He also agreed to allow me to work as a Principle Investigator (P.I.). After that, I had to go through various hurdles, but miraculously a research grant of about 50 million yen came to me. This was the first public funding I received in my life as a researcher.