Takashi Toda is the specially appointed professor, who started on 1st October 2015. Previously, he was a group leader and Head of Cell Regulation Laboratory in the Francis Crick Institute, London UK. He obtained a B.Sc. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Mitsuhiro Yanagida’s laboratory at Kyoto University. He then undertook postdoctoral training at Cold Spring Habor Laboratories, New York, USA, with Michael Wigler. In 1987, he took a position as Assistant Professor in Mitsuhiro Yanagida’s group, Kyoto University and was promoted to Reader in 1993. In 1994, he established his own research group in the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (now the Francis Crick Institute), and in 1999 obtained tenure. His current research interests include the molecular and cellular mechanisms of mitotic progression; in particular the group’s focus is the mitotic spindle, a dynamic ensemble of microtubules, microtubule-associated proteins and motor proteins, which drives chromosome segregation. His laboratory has been uncovering the principles of mitotic spindle structure, function and regulation using the genetically amenable model system, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and more recently has been using zebrafish and human culture cells to scrutinise the evolutionary conservation of findings obtained from work in fission yeast.