Why and how a primary care physician became a medical translator
Basic terminology
in biotechnology

R. Ogata

18 September 2002


One day nine years ago my mother handed me a leaflet of an English school near my home.  I don't know why mother passed it to me. Maybe she felt I got bored.  Without much thought I said, "Ok Ifll go."  That was my slow start of English study.  Soon after that I realized I could not speak nor listen to English.  Actually I haven't studied it for more than a decade and originally I couldnft speak at all.  However the problem was that the degree was worse than the one I vaguely expected.

So I began starting reading magazines titled "English Express" and listening to their tapes.  Now I think that materials were too difficult for my ability at that time.  Through repeated listening, my capacities have developed.

Two years ago I managed to pass the 1st level of the society of testing for English proficiency (STEP).  It is widely believed that the success is a first step for an English professional in Japan.  Therefore last year I went to a school for would-be interpreter to receive the training for six months and after that I take the medical translator's course by correspondence.  After that early this year I passed three trials from Japanese to English in the field of medicine and eventually became a medical translator.



When you are a general practitioner sometimes you might feel you become outdated in medical practice.  To prevent this frustration translation is, I think, a good part-time job and I can appreciate latest marvels of science.  In my private opinion translation is a way to give you a "good" tension and can also give you a kind of energy.

Terminology on biotechnology

Now we see a great advance in biotechnology and many of you have already well known about it.  The importance has been growing rapidly even for medical translators.  However some of you may unfamiliar with this field, so allow me to speak something basic for a while.

(1)   Chromosome

With fertilization one human cell starts forming a whole body of some 60 trillion cells.  During this phase how chromosomes are transformed is an important point.  During the whole process mitosis and meiosis are practiced.  The importance of cross-over in meiosis is stressed.  A chromosome is divided into several parts for the loci of the various genes.  The relationship between mendelian inheritance and chromosomes is depicted.



(2)   DNA

DNA is a two meter polymer in length and has three billion letters comprised of A, T, G, and C for each cell.

(3)   Gene

A gene is a code for producing the specific protein with the various processes including transcription, processing, and translation.  How the protein works in a disease is then explained.

(4) cDNA microarray is a method to know how genes are working.  Its basic systems and possible usage are shown.

(5) Sequencing

Thirty trillion letters (bases) should be arranged but how.

(6) What makes a gene work and how?

Styles of activation for transcription which is the most important step to produce specific protein are depicted.

(7) Mutation and cancer

DNA is facing various challenges all the time.  What are the challenges and how the DNA damage will create cancer?

(8) Last appendix shows the cutting edge themes in the field.   Many jargons tell you the battlefront of this novel technology.

The meeting was followed by a nice dinner at Peking.

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