Professor Ito’s research centers on the regulation of stem cells in the stomach. Stem cells are required for daily maintenance of the stomach, which is constantly damaged by microorganisms and chemicals. The discovery of RUNX genes in 1993 led the Ito group to uncover the dual role of RUNX3 – both as a tumour suppressor and an oncogene. More recently in 2017, RUNX1, a known stem cell gene in hematopoiesis, was also found to be essential for proliferating stem cells in the stomach. This finding led us to identify stem cell specific protein, IQGAP3, as functionally important for homeostasis, tissue repair and cancer in 2020. IQGAP3 is an embryonic protein which is expressed in rapidly proliferating cancer cells in virtually all types of cancer and knockdown of IQGAP3 induces differentiation of cancer cells. Cancer is like a wound that does not heal. Professor Ito’s group is currently studying the requirement of IQGAP3 in the process of wound healing and cancer development.