Report Lectures & Media

(Event Report)Global Health R&D and Japan’s Future in Tohoku

Date: February 2, 2016
Time: 17:00-18:30
Venue: Tohoku University Seiryo Campus, Centennial Hall (Seiryo Auditorium) (Access)

Please note that this event was held in Japanese. 

On February 2, Japan and Health Policy Institute hosted an event called, “Global Health R&D and Japan’s Future in Tohoku,” at Tohoku University where panelists and participants participated in an open discussion on strategies to grow the next generation of global health leaders. The Global Health Innovative Technology(GHIT) Fund and Tohoku University were co-sponsors of this event.

Speakers (titles removed)
 Noriko Osumi, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, United Centers for Advanced Research and Translational Medicine(ART), Director and Professor
 Hiroshi Oshitani, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Virology, Professor
 Toshio Miyata, Health and Global Policy Institute, Executive Director
 Ryoji Noritake, Health and Global Policy Institute, Fellow(Moderator)

Dr. Noriko Osumi spoke first on the topic “Think Globally, Act Locally: Tohoku University’s Health Sciences.” Dr. Osumi talked about medical engineering research at Tohoku University, which is known as an open university, and the Tohoku Medical Mega-Bank Project, a three-generation cohort study in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures that incorporates researchers from information sciences as well as molecular biology. The project is facing a lack of personnel who are familiar with both medicine and information science. One reason for this may be a result of medical schools in Japan not teaching about information sciences. Developing human resources with capacity in multiple disciplines, including global health, is critical for the future.

Dr. Hiroshi Oshitani followed up by speaking on “Shifting Issues in Global Health and Tohoku University’s Efforts.” Dr. Oshitani discussed Tohoku University’s Ebola response mission to West Africa in response to Ebola epidemic. He also touched on recent studies on significant topics, such as Respiratory Syncytial virus, which is a virus that causes severe respiratory infections in children including pneumonia. He also spoke about the relationship between the slow recognition of the Ebola virus as a global threat and the delay of R&D for various technologies, including point of care diagnostics.  In terms of research, he shared information about the cohort study on child pneumonia currently being conducted in Biliran Island of the Philippines. While cohort studies have immense value, the challenge to this type of research is that funding is decided for short periods of time making it difficult to continue a long-term study. Because of the importance of global health research today, sufficient funding should be guaranteed for necessary research.

Dr. Toshio Miyata presented last on “Why Innovation and R&D Is Critical to The Future of Japan’s Healthcare Industry and The Success of the Abe Administration’s Growth Strategy?” He talked about current trends in R&D in Japan and the government’s efforts in healthcare.  He also mentioned the importance of human resource development for healthcare reform and the need for research in preventive medicine to be strengthened. He closed by explaining that R&D can increase medical expenses, but if the focus is on cost-effective technologies, such as inexpensive cancer screening, medical expense will actually go down.

The speakers then participated in a panel discussion, where the conversation shifted to the future of R&D. Topics that came up included dementia, global health, innovation, the need for a greater focus on the practical application of research, and training that integrates academic research with fieldwork. Dr. Miyata included an overview of national government policy toward innovation and global health research. In the future, global viewpoints will be increasingly critical when considering domestic issues, such as regional comprehensive care systems and consolidating pharmacies. And R&D enables technologies that are not available today, leading to a reduction in medical expenses. In Japan, research grant amounts are primarily determined by the Ministry of Finance, which tends to evaluate research outcomes on a short-term basis. As mentioned by Dr. Oshitani, this makes important, long-term research very challenging. To support, continuous research grant funding, the public must voice its opinions.

In closing, all three panelists were asked why they focus on global health when Japan is facing numerous domestic issues. The panelists responded by sharing their common belief that solutions to global issues lead to solutions to local issues, as well as the other way around. Research on global and local issues are strongly tied each other.  

Event co-sponsors:

Global Health Innovative Technology Fund
Tohoku University

Registration deadline: 2016-02-02

Exhibition date:2016-02-02

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