Dr. Anthony Tosi invited to Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute as "Distinguished Visiting Senior Lecturer"
This June I was invited to the Primate Research Institute (PRI) of Kyoto University as a “Distinguished Visiting Senior Lecturer” in the area of primate population genomics. My host was Professor Hirohisa Hirai, a former director of the PRI and a leading researcher in the areas of primate molecular cytogenetics and chromosome evolution. My time was split between (1) analysis and interpretation of nonhuman primate genetic patterns, and (2) expansion of research collaborations between the PRI and Kent State University.
I gave two seminars at the PRI. The first was a review of different evolutionary dynamics across four genetic systems (mitochondrion, Y-chromosome, X-chromosome, and autosome) and how these differences — combined with incongruent phylogenetic patterns — reveal signs of hybridization between primate species. The second presentation covered the molecular techniques and statistical calculations used in low-template DNA analysis. After these talks, I met individually with some of the Cellular and Molecular Biology graduate students to discuss their research and to offer opinions on data interpretation and possible future research avenues. I also had a number of fruitful discussions with Dr. Hirai on chromosome evolution in slow lorises, night monkeys, and chimpanzees, and with Dr. Koga on transposable element activity across a wide variety of species. A big part of these discussions focused on the identification of molecular patterns indicative of hybridization and interspecies gene flow.
My second goal was to expand the collaborative research network between the PRI and Kent State. In the last 14 months, two other KSU faculty (Dr. Raghanti and Dr. Meindl, blogpost) and two graduate students (Emily Munger and Cody Ruiz, blogposts) have visited the PRI, and all noted potential areas for complementary research. During my visit, I therefore worked closely with Dr. Hirai on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This document formally establishes a collaboration between the PRI and Kent State (the Department of Anthropology and the School of Biomedical Sciences, to be specific) in the fields of neuroscience, morphology, genetics, behavior, and ecology, all as they pertain to primates. I met with 15 PRI faculty members from various departments, as well as the new director, Dr. Takakazu Yumoto, and everyone was supportive of a broader inter-institutional research network. The resultant MoU is currently in the final stages of review.
During my visit, the members of the PRI were incredibly gracious. I had wonderful dinners and very enjoyable conversations with Drs. Hirai, Imai, Imamura, Nishimura, Adachi, and Huffman (and Dr. Go from the National Institutes of Natural Sciences). I thank Dr. Hirai for taking me to tour the Japanese Monkey Research Resource Station; Drs. Hirasaki and Shintaku for assistance in examining and photographing a variety of primate metacarpals; Drs. Tomonaga and Adachi for showing me the facilities for chimpanzee behavioral and cognitive studies; Dr. Nishimura for sharing information on PRI instrumentation; Drs. Adachi and MacIntosh for guidance on resources to support graduate student exchanges; and Dr. Imamura for receiving my student, Cody Ruiz, as an intern in his laboratory. In addition to the colleagues mentioned here, I was also very happy to meet Drs. Nakamura, Goto, Ito, Hayakawa, Okamoto, and Kinoshita, the graduate students of the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Biology, and the wonderful office assistants Ms. Yasutake and Ms. Hayashi (Ito).
A special thank you to Dr. Hirohisa Hirai for making it all possible!