Shuh Narumiya

Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) Programs
Center for Frontier Medicine

Program Leader:

 Medical science is rapidly merging with basic biology today. As symbolized in the human genome projects, our knowledge on genes and their products (building blocks of our bodies) is rapidly expanding, giving us the hope that many human diseases can eventually be explained in molecular terms and their treatments rationally designed. We still have much to learn, however, about the basic principles of how molecular circuitries are assembled, operated, and organized in our bodies. Such knowledge can be obtained not only in experiments in test tubes or in model animals but also by careful examination of human diseases. It is therefore important to enhance bi-directional exchange of knowledge between basic and clinical researchers to obtain important insights into how our bodies work, how diseases arise, and how we can detect and control them.

 Such a perspective was our motive for establishing the Global COE program “Center for Frontier Medicine (CFM)” supported by JSPS*. The aim of CFM is to establish a research center in which many talented researchers, both basic and clinical, combine their efforts to generate a research and educational environment ideal for fostering future global leaders in the fields of medical science.

 CFM members are grouped into five “Units”: (1) Allergy and Immunology, (2) Cancer, (3) Aging and Lifestylerelated Diseases, (4) Neuroscience, and (5) Regenerative Medicine. Core Members of each Unit (5 professors) are responsible for evaluating fellowship applicants and steering activities of that Unit. Fellowships include Research Assistantships (RA, graduate students), Pre-doctoral Fellowships (PrD, post-graduate school level), and Postdoctoral Fellowships (PD). Awardees of these fellowships (“Fellows”), have opportunities to know each other and to have advice from multiple senior members through various events, including monthly course meetings and annual course retreats. The Travel Awards provide opportunities for graduate students to attend international meetings overseas and present and discuss their findings in English. The International Internships help young researchers learn innovative techniques in foreign laboratories and boost their studies. We plan to enforce our intereaction with several of the world’s leading institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania (USA), MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA), Imperial College, London (UK), and INSERM (France), and also to establish new partnerships with other institutions.

 CFM organizes several Inter-Unit activities. Annual Retreats are the largest events where all core members and Fellows meet and discuss topics of wider perspectives. CFM co-organizes international symposia with several top Universities in Asia. One was held on October 9-11, 2008 in Shanghai. CFM also sponsors a number of seminars on campus, including the Interface Seminar series, featuring topics of broader interest, such as Structural Biology and Bioinformatics, to up-date our knowledge and to stimulate collaborations. Overall, CFM members have many opportunities to interact with world’s leading scientists, to discuss and collaborate with researchers in different fields, and to share the excitement of discovery and innovation with others, which we believe are the essential elements of training provocative medical scientists.

*JSPS: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science