AATEX 13(2):52-54, 2008
Dr. Yukiaki Kuroda, honorary member and former vice president of the Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments, passed away on May 21, 2008. He was 82 years old.
Dr. Kuroda was born in Nara Prefecture on May 22, 1926. After graduating from the Faculty of Science, Kyoto University in 1950, he immediately assumed the position of research associate in the Department of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University. In 1957, he was appointed as an lecturer in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Osaka University, and was promoted to associate professor in the same Department in 1963. In 1966, Dr. Kuroda transferred to the National Institute of Genetics as general manager, and in 1976 he was appointed as the director of the Division of Gene Expression. He was elected as professor at the same institute in 1984, and in 1990 became an honorary professor upon retirement. Also in 1990 he assumed the post of professor in charge of the Life Science Course, the School of Environmental Health, Azabu University. He served as director of the Research Institute of Biosciences at the same university from 1991 until he retired in 1997. After his retirement from the University he devoted himself to activities in research and education, while assuming such positions as honorary professor at the National Institute of Genetics, and visiting professor at Azabu University and University of Shizuoka.
Dr. Kurodafs research spanned a wide range of themes, including the establishment of cell and tissue culture techniques, analysis of gene expression in culture systems, establishment of methods for gene mutation detection, and search for environmental mutagens and mutagenesis inhibitors. Clearly, Dr. Kuroda was a pioneer in the field of animal and insect tissue culture in Japan. He was an honorary member of the Japanese Tissue Culture Association, the Japanese Environmental Mutagen Society, Japan Society for Biomedical Gerontology, and Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments. In addition, he was also active in the Genetics Society of Japan, Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists, Japan Society for Cell Biology, the Zoological Society of Japan, etc. Furthermore, he served as president of the Third International Conference on Environmental Mutagens, the Seventh International Conference on Invertebrate and Fish Tissue Culture, and the Second International Conference on Mechanisms of Antimutagenesis and Anticarcinogenesis. On the basis of these contributions, Dr. Kuroda was awarded an academic prize by the Japanese Environmental Mutagen Society for his work entitled "Study on detection and inhibition of gene mutations using mammalian cultivated cell" in 1998, and was commended from the Scientific Research Group of Tea for his work entitled "Study on antimutagenesis with catechin of green tea using mammalian cultivated cell system" in 2002.
Speaking of his contributions to the Society, in 1987, Dr. Kuroda along with Dr. Tsutomu Sugahara, another current honorary member of the Society, founded the Japanese Study Group on Alternatives to Animal Experiments, the predecessor of the Society. When the Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments was inaugurated in 1989, Dr. Kuroda served as its first vice president for eight long years through 1996. This was the genesis period when the Society was yet to be firmly established, and I can well imagine the hardships Dr. Kuroda must have gone through. By virtue of these contributions to the Society, Dr. Kuroda received the Society Award in 2003, and in 2005 was recommended to become an honorary member of the Society.
If I am not mistaken, I first met Dr. Kuroda at a board of trustees meeting of the Society in 1990. At that time, he was shouldering a heavy responsibility as the first vice president of the Society. Although he already was a hard-to-approach scholar of high professional standing in the field of tissue culture, I found him to be a frank and friendly individual once I had a chance to talk to him directly. Ever since then, he has guided me in the activities of the Society through all these 20 long years.
As every member of the Society will remember, Dr. Kuroda always raised his hand to ask insightful questions and express his views at the Society conferences. I can still see him doing that at those conferences. I would imagine he was trying to show us by his example that it was of utmost importance to exchange opinions from broad perspective and never to leave questions unanswered at those conferences. I would also believe that all these were the fruit of his long experience as a researcher and an educator. Dr. Kuroda was also a ready writer, and after every conference he would always send me the feedback together with the photographs he had taken. I would now like to introduce below an excerpt of his last letter written on March 15, 2008, which I believe best describes Dr. Kurodafs philosophy as the founder of the Society.
(AATEX: Altern. Animal Test. EXperiment.: Alternatives to Animal Testing and EXperimentation)