Dr. Utako Okamoto
·As a researcher
·As a mother, researcher and medical doctor
·Love bird researchers
1918 Born in Tokyo on the 1st April
1936 - Entered into Toyo Women’s Dental College but later left with the intention of going to medical school.
1937 - Entered Tokyo Women's Medical University
1945 - Assistant, Physiology Department, Keio University School of Medicine
1959 - Senior Lecturer. Physiology Department, Keio University School of Medicine
1966 - Professor of Kobe Gakuin University
1988 - Retired from Kobe Gakuin University
1990 - Deputy representative of Kobe Research Project on Thrombosis and Hemostasis
2004 - Representative of Kobe Research Project on Thrombosis and Hemostasis
2016 - She died
As a researcher
After graduating from Tokyo Women’s Medical University in December 1941 (Showa 16), I worked as an assistant in the Physiology Department of the University. Under the supervision of Dr. Isamu Suda who was a pupil of Dr.Takashi Hayashi from Keio University School of Medicine. I was working on the cerebellar response to direct chemical stimulation. I was so absorbed by this research and found that by injecting a tiny amount of glutamic or citric acid into part of cerebellum in the cat, it caused significant dilation of the pupils. I concluded that a cerebellum is a higher order centre of the autonomic nervous system. This was a great surprise to me. From June 1945 (Showa 21), I worked as an assistant in the Physiology Department of Keio University School of Medicine. But After getting married to Dr.Shosuke Okamoto who worked in the same department in November 1947 (Showa 22,) I began working with my husband on research into antiplasmin. Together we invented ε-aminocaproic acid and tranexamic acid. These drugs are now widely used as hemostatic agents.
As a mother, a researcher and a doctor
When I was a student at Tokyo Women’s Medical University, the norm was that those who want to do research remain single for the rest of their lives. However, despite this norm, I felt that unless women could work while being married and raising children the status of women would never improve. Since my husband was understanding, I was able to choose a way where I could continue both family life and work after marriage. In 1949 (Showa 24) my daughter Kumi was born. It was hard. There was no place to leave a child at that time and I felt that I was doing something wrong. For a woman with children to be able to work, the understanding of the people around her was critical.
Inspired by the example of Madame Curie who set up a school in her laboratory, I set up the first after-school club in Japan called “Sparrow school.” Through trial and error, I was able to continue my research while raising a family.
She married Dr.Shosuke Okamoto who was a senior researcher in the Physiology Department at Keio University School of Medicine and they became known as the “Lovebird researchers.” Utako said “Your husband should be someone that you are prepared to die for. I lived at a time when one could be killed at any moment. Everyone lived while preparing to die. That’s why I was prepared to die for my husband.”
(Excerpt from interview article "Medical Who's Who")