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CMSI Activity Report

Faculty member's commitment to the CMSI (fourth episode)

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,
Sensory and Motor System Medicine, Surgical Science,
Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
Professor Kozo Nakamura
(Head of Medical Education, Chairman of Education and Research Environment Development Committee)

− Medical System Innovation −
  • The purpose of this educational program is to develop leaders who can drive innovation in the medical field from a global perspective. Could you tell us your thoughts on medical innovation?
    Although there are significant advances being achieved in medicine, I think that there are two dimensions to these advances-that is, the progress being made in medicine itself and the progress being made in its peripheral sciences. It is not possible to completely separate the two, but I think that these aspects do exist. The former is based directly on the needs found on site, such as the development of therapies and diagnostic equipment, and advancements in technology. They are directly tied to clinical practice, the progress is successive and time is generally required. The medical front seeks treatments that are as established and as standardized as possible, and progress is achieved by verifying each of these treatments, one by one. However, it is also important to incorporate and apply the advances being made in the peripheral sciences other than medicine.
    For example, the discovery of the X-ray in 1895 became one of the bases of diagnostics, and the discovery of streptomycin in 1944 greatly changed disease structures. Meanwhile, the development of disinfection methods contributed to progress in surgical medicine. Advances in the peripheral sciences have the power to promote rapid progress in medicine.
    The University of Tokyo’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery celebrated its centennial in 2006. Professor Yoshinori Tashiro, the department’s first professor, submitted an article entitled “The Present and Future of Orthopedic Surgery” to the Iji Shimbun (medical profession newspaper) in 1924. He wrote of the importance of learning not only orthopedics but also the peripheral sciences, such as anatomy, nutrition and physics, and of incorporating these sciences into orthopedics.
    I believe that this was because he thought that progress in both the aspects of medicine and medical procedures was necessary. Professor Tashiro was studying in Germany and Austria between 1900 and 1904 when, after the discovery of X-rays, the application of X-ray imagery to medicine was progressing rapidly. This is probably why he especially felt the importance. I always recall Professor Tashiro’s thoughts whenever I think of progress in medicine.

  • − Progress in Medicine, and Industrialization −
  • How do you feel about progress in medicine and industrialization at the actual site of healthcare?
    In terms of the field of motor systems, which is my area of specialization, the development of new biomaterials and advances in computer-assisted technology have made new treatment methods, once considered difficult to achieve, into reality. I feel changes occurring in the therapeutic system itself. These real-life examples are all experiencing success as an industry.
    Meanwhile, there are many ideas that I feel are far from becoming actualized. I think this is because research that acts as a bridge is indispensable in order for the ideas to match medical needs and be applied for the benefit of society. I think that multidisciplinary integration is important in that sense as well.

  • − Multidisciplinary Integration −
  • What is required for the promotion of multidisciplinary integration?
    This program is about medical system innovation through multidisciplinary integration-the intellectual fusion of medicine, engineering and the pharmaceutical sciences. I have heard that the differences between medicine, engineering and the pharmaceutical sciences in the terms that are used and in ways of thinking is an obstacle to achieving multidisciplinary integration. There is concern that it will become even more difficult to understand as progress is achieved in each of these areas of learning. Dialogue and an understanding of each other’s fields are necessary for the promotion of multidisciplinary integration. This cannot start without those in each discipline meeting people in others. I hope that our program will play a part in this.

  • − Role as an Educational Center −
  • What is the significance of the participation of graduate students in this program and what do you hope to see?
    I think that a person’s studies in graduate school build his/her foundation as a researcher; graduate school is for acquiring the basic skills required for promoting later research. In practice, a graduate student makes in-depth studies of his/her theme. However, it is also necessary for the graduate student to cover his/her field as a whole. Furthermore, when you think about medicine making a contribution to society, medicine’s relationship with society, which is its outlet, is also important.
    For example, our Department of Orthopedics is currently jointly developing, with the School of Engineering, long-lasting prosthetic joints that are now in the clinical trial phase. The participation of companies is essential in order for the prosthetic joints developed in this manner to be of use to society. I think that studying actual cases like this is beneficial in learning about points of contact with society.
    I would like to recommend to those of you who will be beginning such studies to not only ensure that you acquire your individual expertise but at the same time also look at a world other than your own. My hope is that the graduate students participating in this program will use it to develop into professionals with a wide vision.