PhD Program in Human Biology, University of Tsukuba（2012-2018）
Senior Research Scientist (Etcembly)
(1) Please tell about your current job.
My name is Eszter Tóth and I completed my PhD in Human Biology at the University of Tsukuba in 2018. For my PhD thesis, I developed a single-cell genomics platform, capable of showing details of individual neurons at an unprecedented resolution and scale. This revealed fascinating details about how neurons communicate with each other and how memory forms.
After graduating, I became interested in applying my knowledge for the benefit of society. I currently work in Etcembly, an Oxford-based biotechnology start-up. Our mission is to decode how the human immune system works in health and disease by analyzing T-Cell repertoires. T-Cells recognise cells in the body that are infected with viruses or that are cancerous. These cells reflect on our ethnicity, genetic background, past diseses, age, and on all our previous experiences in life. By applying machine learning we aim to discover the hidden rules of T-cell complexity, and diagnose diseases. This will also allow us to alter the patient's immune system by genetic engineering to fight diseases.
I really enjoy working in a fast-paced start-up, building a team, and developing a technology that will improve human health.
(2) Please tell about what you think were good at the University of Tsukuba.
When I think of life as a student in Tsukuba, a lot of fond memories come to my mind. The Ph.D. Program in Human Biology was established with the aim of bringing together students with different expertise such as biology, chemistry and computer science to work together on some of the greatest challenges humanity faces. This interdisciplinary approach made all of us view our field from a completely different, unexpected angle and facilitated learning and discovery. Tsukuba is also a very international place, so I had a unique chance to get to know Japanese culture as well as making friends from all over the world.
(3) Your message to the University of Tsukuba and the current students.
My PhD advisor, Fukamizu-sensei once told me, about 90% of the experiments we do in the lab will be failures. But this is ok, if we accept them as a natural part of our job, we can propel forward and eventually, do the experiment that will give us a breakthrough result.
I think we can apply this rule to many areas of life. Your experience of overcoming a challenge is your merit. People who are curious about new things, always in a forward motion and lead with self-determination will of course accumulate many failures during their lifetime. But these are also the successful people who always work towards a better self and inspire others.