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Four biomedical researchers join UT Health Northeast as part of internationally respected cellular and molecular biologist’s team

May 1, 2014

Four members of the research team of internationally known scientist Mitsuo Ikebe, Ph.D., recently joined UT Health Northeast. Dr. Ikebe is the new chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology at UT Health.

The researchers are Toshio Kitazawa, Ph.D.; Satoshi Komatsu, Ph.D.; Osamu Sato, Ph.D., and Tsuyoshi Sakai, Ph.D.  All worked with Dr. Ikebe before he came to UT Health, when he was with the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, Mass.

Dr. Ikebe’s team studies cell motility, the ability of a cell and its components to move when stimulated by something outside the cell. This cutting-edge research can be applied to a broad range of medical problems, such as how cancer cells move, how inflammatory cells invade injured tissue, and how these tissues repair themselves.

Before joining UT Health as an assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology, Dr. Kitazawa was a senior scientist with the Boston Biomedical Research Institute in Watertown, Mass. He also was an associate professor of physiology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Since 1993, Dr. Kitazawa has received more than $6.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the gold standard in biomedical research funding. He has served as a reviewer on numerous prestigious academic journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Physiology.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo in Japan in pharmacology, the branch of medicine and biology that studies how drugs work in the body. He has a master’s degree in biophysics from Waseda University School of Science and Engineering in Tokyo.

Dr. Komatsu, an assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology, comes to UT Health from UMMS, where he had served as a research assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems. He also was a research assistant professor and research instructor in the UMMS Department of Physiology.

His research into how and why cells move has been supported by grants from the NIH and the American Heart Association (AHA).

Dr. Komatsu received his Ph.D. in biological science from Hiroshima University in Higashihiroshima and Hiroshima, Japan. Dr. Komatsu completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the UMMS Department of Physiology.

Dr. Sato, a research assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology, has a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

He completed three postdoctoral fellowships under Dr. Ikebe’s direction in the UMMS Department of Physiology. In addition, he was an instructor in the UMMS                Department of Physiology and its Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems.

Dr. Sakai, an instructor of cellular and molecular biology, has a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Soka University School of Engineering in Tokyo. He was awarded an AHA post-doctoral fellowship. He was a research associate in the UMMS Department of Physiology and its Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems.

For more than 60 years, UT Health Northeast has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UT Health Northeast’s annual operating budget of $138.8 million represents a major economic impact of over $347 million for the Northeast Texas region. Since 2002, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research have been awarded more than $120 million in research dollars. As the academic health science center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond. UT Health Northeast is also the program sponsor of the residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.

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