Overview of my stay in Japan:

It has been a privilege and an honour to have been selected as a fellow of the summer program. I had a superb time in Japan with my colleagues from the Institute of Tropical Medicine (NEKKEN) of Nagasaki University and with JSPS summer program participants. Alongside my research, seminars and learning activities, I’ve visited museums, art exhibitions - including Ghibli Studio’s itinerary exhibit, beautiful temples and shrines. I learned about Japanese culture by interacting with local people at amazing culinary experiences and the summer traditional fireworks festivals. During weekends, I extensively visited Kyushu hotspots and I enjoyed the beautiful nature and seaside around Nagasaki’s prefecture. As my research is in international health, I’ve also had the chance to conduct part of my field work in Nepal together with Prof. Taro Yamamoto’s research team and one week at Juntendo University, department of Cellular and Molecular Parasitology, in the laboratory of Prof. Toshihiro Mita. JSPS summer program has been a truly memorable time, not only for the strong scientific value of it but because it was embedded in the wonderful Japanese cultural experience.

Accomplishments and experiences I would never have gotten unless I joined the Summer Program:

Two months turned out to be not enough to fully execute my research plan; however, I had the chance to contribute to two major research projects that were on-going in the host laboratory and will likely result in a research publication during next year. It was a true exchange of knowledge as my research expertise matched the needs of the laboratory, and I could conduct my research on rare samples only available at Institute of Tropical Medicine. Although short, it has been very rewarding scientifically.
The Department of International Health at NEKKEN integrates a variety of approaches in epidemiology, statistics, ecology and biological evolution to provide more detailed understanding and insight on infectious diseases of global health importance. This short-term pre-postdoctoral scholarship from JSPS gave me a chance to join the research group of Prof. Yamamoto and contribute to multiple projects within in the department, including biomedical field research in Nepal. I also participated in the research life of the institute by attending seminars, public talks and research presentations. All of these activities have made the learning experience invaluable. The department is also active on a policy level, emergency relief, in health promotion activities and empowerment at the rural community level; therefore, I could integrate a new dimension of translational medical research in my project. JSPS activities, from the organized conference and scientific exchange to the language classes have been of high quality and very engaging.
Thanks to the JSPS summer program grant, I was allowed to explore a new scientific subject for my future research career and this was an invaluable opportunity. The Institute of Tropical Medicine where I conducted my fellowship is one of the few in the world dedicated to global health research and be part of it was very exciting and unique! My scientific network and experience is thanks to being part of the program.

Message for future participants:

Apply, apply, apply! The summer program has been a great pre-postdoctoral experience. Use your brain like a sponge to learn as much as you can and explore beautiful Japan in your free time. An overseas experience will make you richer, not only scientifically, but also as a person. You’ll learn about another culture but also about yourself and your own culture. Japan is a genuinely hospitable country and the JSPS program is incredibly engaging. You also expand your network and make friends for life!

Name: Giulia Gaudenzi

Title: MSc, Ph.D. Student

Institution: Karolinska Institutet

Host University in Japan: Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University