Ambassadors

Published on May 7th, 2013 | by Simi

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Hiroaki Kitano, President & CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories

1. What is your name and what do you do?
Hiroaki Kitano

I am president of the Systems Biology Institute, President & CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. as well as Professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

My research area is systems biology and its application to drug discovery and clinical strategy decision making involving patients stratification and personalized medicine. In addition, I am working on distributed energy systems research in recent years.

2. Why are you an ambassador for MoPE?
Mathematics plays a pivotal role as it is the common language in science and technology. Mathematics is essential in describing fundamental principles as well as being the tool for practical application of ideas.

Math is important to every country that intends to establish excellence in science and technology. Australia is no exception. With limited resources (not natural resources but scientific and engineering resources such as numbers of researchers and budget), it is critically important that researchers are highly efficient and competent to pursue their research rather than resorting to a brute force approach. Excellence in math shall help in taking a more rational and cost-efficient approach as well.

We are in an extremely exciting era in biomedical sciences. Things are changing rapidly and we are being flooded with data to be analyzed. Systems biology is the promising approach with a high-impact track record as a change maker. More and more pharmaceutical companies are introducing such an approach and now expanding into personalized medicine. I am set to make revolution in this field and industry.

3. Tell us a bit about your research/work
Currently, working on systems drug design. Using computational approach to predict which diseases certain candidate chemicals should ideally be applied to, as well as predicting possible side effects. One of these drugs, developed with a major pharmaceutical company, is in phase-II clinical trial in the USA.  Also, we are working with the FDA on prediction of adverse effects on hearts and liver by anti-cancer drugs.

4. What role does mathematics play in your work? Is mathematics at the center, or do you just use it from time to time?
Math is critical is creating models, hypothesis, and as a tools of thoughts.

5. Is it important for all Australians to be mathematically literate?
No brainer. YES.

6. How can we inspire more people to take up careers in mathematics?
I think the current bottleneck is in early education. Math is an abstract concept and not many teachers can explain and describe math concepts in accessible and essential way. Just having students to memorize and remember to apply equations is not proper, but unfortunately often used approach.

We need serious efforts in math education.

7. Do you think that mathematicians deserve the “geek” tag?
YES. With “GEEK PRIDE”.

 

 

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