Meet UNMC New Investigator Awardee Mayumi Naramura, M.D.

April 25, 2012

UNMC researcher Mayumi Naramura, M.D., answers questions about her work, life and interests.

NOTE: This profile is part of a series to highlight the 23 researchers who will be honored May 22 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2011 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator award recipients.

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Mayumi Naramura, M.D.
  • Name: Mayumi Naramura, M.D.
  • Title: Assistant professor in the Eppley Institute
  • Joined UNMC: November 2007
  • Hometown: Osaka, Japan

Describe your research in laymen's terms.

We study how normal mammary glands develop and try to apply such knowledge to understand the origin and progression of breast cancer.

How do you want your research to translate to benefit patients?

Although the overall outcome for patients with breast cancer has greatly improved in recent years, there are still subsets of breast cancers that are associated with rapid progression and/or poor prognosis. Among those are the so-called "triple-negative" breast cancers, characterized by the absence of estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2 molecule. We are interested in understanding the biology of such cancer cells and hope to translate the findings into better diagnostics and new treatment targets.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?

This is not really a piece of advice, but I think I can sum up all the good advice I received at various occasions as "the power of positive reinforcement." There is a saying in Japanese, "If you keep encouraging, even a pig can climb up a tree." The original Japanese phrase is often used in a negative context, but, hey, it works!

List three things few people know about you.

  • I was trained in pediatric hematology/oncology in Japan before I started my basic research career. I recently reconnected with one of my former patients on Facebook. It was a gratifying but also a humbling experience to receive a friend request from her.
  • I am an alto section leader at St. Cecilia Cathedral Choir. I also take lessons in pipe organ performance there.
  • I bike to work during the summer. I walk in the winter. I have been looking forward to an opportunity to ski to work, but it hasn't happened yet.

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