… One of the most painful parts of his illness is its timing. [UCLA Professor of Japanese Michael] Marra is 54, and said he has just begun to give meaningful lectures – when he was in his 20s and 30s, he was still piecing together puzzles in his research.

… He will stay up until 2 or 3 a.m., answering e-mails from students who are studying in Japan. And last week, he started a new project: organizing a book for the 20th anniversary of the Center for Japanese Studies.

Though he hopes to finish out the quarter, Marra told his students at the first class meeting that this might not be possible. He said they were free to drop the course and left the classroom for several minutes. When he came back, everyone was still in their seats.

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