David Marsden Lecture Award:
Challenge to elucidate the pathomechanisms of Parkinson's disease: From the pathogenesis to biomarkers
I am delighted and honored to receive the prestigious David Marsden Lecture Award. I would also like to thank the many friends and colleagues who supported me in receiving this award. I am the third Japanese person to receive this award since Dr. Yoshikuni Mizuno became the first Japanese person to receive this award in 2002. I am extremely happy to have received the same award as Dr. Yoshikuni Mizuno, my teacher and mentor.
I was trained in molecular biology at the Department of Biomedical Chemistry of Nagoya University from 1990 to 1993. Since then, I have been interested in mitochondrial functions in Parkinson's disease (PD). I received my MD degree from Juntendo University in 1985.
Our group has identified the gene parkin, responsible for young-onset PD (Nature, 1998). The parkin gene is the second form of hereditary PD. In addition, we found that the gene product, parkin, is directly linked to the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway as a ubiquitin ligase. This discovery suggested that the protein-degradation system is involved in the pathogenesis of hereditary PD and sporadic PD.
Since then, I have received numerous awards for discovering the parkin gene. And then, I became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at Juntendo University in 2006, succeeding Emeritus Professor Yoshikuni Mizuno of Juntendo University School of Medicine. A second causative gene for hereditary PD, CHCHD2, was identified by our group in 2015 (Lancet Neurol, 2015), and a third causative gene, PSAP, was identified in 2020 (Brain, 2020). CHCHD2 was found to be involved in mitochondrial function, while PSAP was found to be involved in the lysosomal system.
I am continuing our research to identify a fourth causative gene. I have also been interested in biomarkers since 2015. Recently, I have found a biomarker that can be used in blood tests to diagnose PD. In addition, I am interested in artificial intelligence (AI). AI has unlimited potential in medical practice, and I want to establish AI doctors and pharmacists. I have already been able to establish a diagnostic system for PD using only facial expressions (Parkinsonism Relat Disord, 2022), and I would like to develop a system that should further improve the quality of diagnosis. I want to continue my research to establish disease-modifying therapies. This award will give me even more power.
My motto is serendipity. I wish to acknowledge and thank the many collaborators I have met. I have a team of approximately one hundred scientists and researchers I work with. I would also like to dedicate this award to my colleagues.