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Tsutomu Chiba is a Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. He graduated from Kobe University School of Medicine, and started his residency at Kobe University Hospital and Uwajima City Hospital, located in the south part of Shikoku Island. After finishing his residency, he entered the Graduate School of Medicine in Kobe University. There, he established an isolated perfusion system of rat stomach, and first proved the release of somatostatin from the stomach.
After leaving the Graduate School he started clinical work again, at Miki municipal hospital. In 1984 he went to Tachi Yamada's laboratory at the University of Michigan, Michigan, USA as he wanted to continue research work. In Michigan he did various cell biology studies using isolated parietal cells and D cells. After going back to Kobe University School of Medicine, he happened to come across Mastomys natalensis, a rodent that spontaneously develops ECL carcinoid tumors of the stomach and dies as a result of perforation of duodenal ulcer. He cloned the gastrin receptor gene from the tumor in 1992.
In 1995 he moved to Kyoto University. He is now working with 8 faculty members, 10 fellows, and nearly 40 post-graduate students.
He is married to Eiko Chiba, and they have two daughters.
- What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
- I first wanted to be an endocrinologist, because I was very influenced by my excellent teachers at Kobe University, Professor Y. Nishizuka, who discovered protein kinase C, and Professor H. Imura, a famous endocrinologist. However, when I started my residency at Uwajima city hospital, I noticed that there were many patients with GI diseases and I had to see these individuals.
- Who was the teacher you admired the most?
- Professor Y. Nishizuka, who was a teacher of biochemistry during my medical school days. Indeed, during my 5th and 6th grades of medical school, I worked in his laboratory as a medical student. It was the time when they had just discovered protein kinase C, a wonderful and exciting period.
- Which research paper influenced you the most?
- A paper by Professor T. Fujita, the most distinguished histologist in Japan, on the discovery of cells in the antrum which probably release an agent that inhibits gastrin release, in response to luminal acidification. Because it was before the discovery of somatostatin, they speculated that it must be secretin. It later turned out to be somatostatin (Z. Zellforsch. Mikrosk. Anat. 1971; 116: 52-60).
- What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
- I first found that release of gastric somatostatin is reciprocal to the release of gastrin, particularly in response to secretin, and acetylcholine stimulation (Gastroenterology 1980; 79: 67-71). I also cloned the gastrin receptor gene from spontaneously developed ECL carcinoid tumor of mastomys natalensis, the growth of which is enhanced by administration of PPI (BBRC 1992; 187: 1151-7).
- What is the biggest mistake that you have made?
- Since I was working very hard on elucidating the mechanism of acid secretion, and I believed that acid was the most important factor for the development of peptic ulcer disease, I underestimated the significance of H. pylori for quite a long time. The first time I really noticed that H. pylori was very important was when I treated a patient with MALT lymphoma by eradicating H. pylori.
- What is your unfulfilled ambition?
- I want to have more free time!
- What is your greatest regret?
- That I did not become a musician, a pianist or a conductor. During my high-school days, I played the piano for 3-4 hours after coming home from school.
- How do you relax?
- Jogging, climbing mountains and listening to classical music.
- What is your favorite sport?
- Mountain climbing and skiing.
- What is your best place in the world?
- The pond of a legendary wizard, in a high mountain called Tateyama, in the Japan Alps. I often visit it with my wife. It takes two days of walking.
- What is your favorite film?
- "Holiday in Rome". I saw it when I was probably 14 or 15 years old, just arriving at puberty.
- What car do you drive?
- Mitsubishi Galant.
- What is your best electronic 'toy'?
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- No time for reading any books except for medical books.
- Why did you get in involved in GastroHep.com?
- I do not know exactly. Professor Pounder asked me sincerely to join GastroHep.com.