Top page > KASEI-JIN > File.2 Hirotaka Takeuchi

Building new “wrinkle theory” from wrinkle improvement and anti-aging

I have been involved in research on wrinkle improvement and anti-aging since joining the company in 2003.
When I was new to the company, I was assigned to the Cutaneous Drug Laboratory, which developed ingredients for both cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.  While there, I studied technologies for developing pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and later began research that focused primarily on wrinkle improvement.   I subsequently became a leader of wrinkle research when it was launched as a priority theme of the research arm.  The research themes that I proposed at this time are currently themes of dispatched research.
I am currently dispatched to study at Boston University for a scheduled period of 18 months.  I am engaged in research to clarify the mechanisms by which skin ages at the cellular and dermal levels under Professor Thomas Ruenger, who is an authority on skin aging.
・Development of new active ingredients (elucidation of pharmacological and medicinal mechanisms)
In my development of new active ingredients, I examined from scratch the effect mechanisms of ingredients that are still unknown in order to simply and objectively discuss their effectiveness.  I then clarified for the first time in the world how these ingredients work on the skin and produce effect.
・Introducing comprehensive analysis technology and building an original search system for wrinkle improvement factors in POLA Chemical Industries
I developed an original material search system for POLA Chemical Industries by fusing positive aspects of pharmaceuticals development technologies and cosmetics development technologies.  I also made contributions to the utilization of search results, discovery of new wrinkle improvement targets, and development of new materials.
・Launch of wrinkle research, formulation of new themes, and beginning of overseas dispatched research
As a leader of wrinkle research, in 2008 I returned my focus to the basics by asking “What approaches can we as researchers take to give customers a strong and real sense of anti-aging effect?”  I used this vantage point to plan wrinkle improvement research along avenues that were completely unlike traditional approaches.
I really struggled to formulate a new theme for research at Boston University.
First, to clarify something that is unknown in the world, you have to ask what kind of theory you intend to propose, what approaches you intend to use to verify the theory, what resources you will need to do this, and whose help you will need.  Developing a theme completely from beginning was not something that I had ever really experienced before.
Moreover, I found almost no examples of prior activity to help me, from surveys of overseas research institutes capable of studying this new theme to concluded research agreements.  That meant that I had to feel my way forward almost blindly.  However, while I learned that laying your own track rather than proceeding on an established track is difficult, I also discovered how appealing and stimulating the process is.  Nothing surpasses the sense of satisfaction one feels after clearing an extremely high hurdle.
What I value and set as a motto when I am working (or studying) is to “obsessively observe and record, and continuously consider.”
Nobel Chemistry Prize-winner Koichi Tanaka and many other researchers often say that “serendipity” was behind their great achievements.  What they mean is that results obtained by chance from a failed experiment are actually great discoveries in themselves; however, I would say that such discoveries are not “by chance” but rather “inevitable.”  In other words, I believe that serendipity is a product of true ability.  And I believe that what is required to translate serendipity into inevitability is obsessive observation and recording.  No matter how small the result or phenomenon, I believe it is important to pay attention to it, handle it with care, and properly record it as an outcome of research.
I also believe it is important to “continually think” about my research; in other words, to keep it in a corner of my mind not only during experiments but also as I go about all other activities.  Research results are not achieved overnight.  I find that solutions and new media can suddenly come to me if I am constantly thinking.
Because research is something that must be thought about and built up from scratch, I always find myself questioning whether or not I am truly on the correct course forward.  Dispelling such anxiety requires taking steps to approach the truth through repeated testing, accumulation of data, and constant discussion.  However, this is not easy.
On the other hand, the process of taking anxious steps toward the truth gives me satisfaction.  As a researcher, I find illuminating something previously unknown for the first time ever to be extremely appealing and exciting.  I believe my current position and field offer this kind of challenging environment. 
I can be personally involved in all processes of thinking about phenomena, establishing theories, verifying means, proving hypotheses, and considering outcomes.  And it encourages me immensely whenever the results of an experiment produce the results that I anticipated.
On top of this, I believe that data obtained from such experiments form a kind of international language.  The discussions I have with international researchers using this “language” that I myself have created become extremely stimulating and motivating times for me.
The most important thing is to be full of curiosity and love experimenting.
After that, it is important to have
・Powers of consideration that allow deep, deep thought as well as powers of observation and perception
・A neutral thought process that permits objective thinking
・The perseverance needed to conduct experiments repeatedly and patiently
・Language and communication abilities for meaningful discussions with various people
I use my iPad to read digitalized papers and my camera for taking photos of things that interest me.

My goal at the moment is to develop materials that can improve wrinkles.  I see this as a topic that we researchers will be tackling endlessly despite its simplicity.
As someone who has specialized in wrinkle improvement and anti-aging since joining the company, I want to become a leader who can drive the industry forward.  To achieve this, I intend to use this time, when I have the opportunity to devote myself to research, to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible.

And, as a researcher in the cosmetics industry, I hope to build research on anti-aging skin into a major research field.  But it will be quite some time before that can be achieved.

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File.3 Products R&D Department
Yukari Sakazaki


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