Interview with Mari Kuraguchi

July 11, 2022
Yasmina Ibsen

Mari is Senior Director of Preclinical Pharmacology at Biocytogen and a long-time Studylog user. 

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?     

I was born in Japan but the family moved to Australia when I was 7, then to Britain when I was 13, so I grew up in Japan, Australia, and Britain. The family went back to Japan when I was 18 but I stayed in Britain to go to the University of Leeds and then to the University of Cambridge to do my Ph.D.

What sparked your interest in Science? 

I guess I always liked science as a child but it was also a subject that was not affected by my poor English literacy (my English was not as good then) so consequently I ended up focusing more on that area. When I lost my grandmother to stomach cancer just before entering university, my scientific interest started to gear towards understanding cancer biology and then to translational research. 

Did you have any specific role models? If so, who were they?

My parents are wonderful role models. My family moved from one country to another during my childhood, and my parents taught me to be “multi-cultural” - at home speak and act like a Japanese but outside home, learn and understand locaI people and culture. Understand both cultures and make use of both sides - adjust and evolve. I think this mindset helped me to move on wherever I go. 

What would you say to a young person considering a career in science or specifically oncology? 

Go for it! Perseverance will win at the end!

What is important to you personally? I.e.what things do you value most in life? 

A good balance of work, social life with friends and family.

What are some of the challenges you have faced either in your career or personally that you feel have helped you become the successful person you are?  

Working with a variety of people with different social and cultural backgrounds in the same lab sometimes cause unexpected challenges or conflicts. I have learnt earlier in my career in the US that the way I talk, which was normal where I was brought up, sounds too critical and negative to people in the US and I have to adjust my way to be more softer and positive. What I never compromised, whoever I worked with, is attention to details and making sure all data to be kept in an organized manner. Whenever someone makes a mistake, or something is not working right, I always ask for all the information and details surrounding the problem and make sure everything has been documented in the organized way. Comparing such information to historical data can sometimes figure out the cause of the problem or lead to a direction. Of course, science itself is a challenge - there may not be a clear solution, but it could be a small piece of a puzzle for the next step.

How has Studylog impacted you or your team?    

Fantastic! Of course there is a learning curve in the beginning, but once you know how to generate a study and acquire data, the data will be there forever and can be organized into various excel report templates with a touch of a button. It is a safe, centralized, and standardized repository for data - a really great way to maintain and organize numerous preclinical studies. 

Has Studylog saved you time?

It is difficult to estimate how much we have saved time. It certainly standardized and simplified the way of reviewing and sharing interim data and eliminated the need to make 1 or 2 customized excel data sheet manually per study, not mentioning the ease of searching the whole repository of studies with keywords.

What is the most significant challenge that you faced at one place that Studylog was able to solve?

Randomization! What a beauty to randomize a 20-arm studies with 5 mice each or 11-arm study with 7 mice each with a touch of a button!

What would you say to people who prefer to use Excel because it is free?

Time is money. Excel is free and Studylog is not a very cheap software, but consider the amount of time you will save in organizing and processing data.

What is your favorite Studylog feature?

Ease of randomization - can randomize a variety of different grouping conditions with a touch of a button. Ease of generating reports with all raw data (Consolidated is our favorite template) with a touch of a button.

What do you do for fun outside of the lab? 

I love hiking and traveling internationally, but I also enjoy reading books.