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Efforts in Tropical and Emerging Communicable Diseases Research

Tropical medicine research at Nagasaki University has its origins in Edo period trade

The Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University is regarded as the base for research on tropical and emerging infectious diseases in Japan. The Institute of Tropical Medicine focuses exclusively on tropical medicine research, and is the only institute of its kind in Japan. You may ask “Why was this Institution established in Nagasaki?”. The answer lies in the unique history of Nagasaki.

Japanese encephalitis virus

Japanese encephalitis virus

During the Edo period (from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century), the shogunate instituted a closed-door policy which prohibited Japanese people from trading with foreign countries. Nagasaki was the only exception, with people in Nagasaki being allowed to trade with the Netherlands. Science and culture from Europe were brought to Nagasaki’s Dejima island, which was the center point of trade. Most importantly, new technologies and knowledge related to western medicine were introduced and had a great impact on Japanese public health.

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University

Institute of Tropical Medicine,
Nagasaki University

At that time, Japan was still a developing country and lagged behind western countries in medicine. In addition, Japanese suffered from many infectious diseases which were the leading causes of death. In 1857, the shogunate established a medical training institute at the Nagasaki magistrate’s office, where lectures on western medicine by a Dutch military doctor were conducted. Infectious diseases were designated as the first lecture theme. Infectious disease research has been developing in Nagasaki since that very first lecture. The East Asia Research Institute of Endemics was established in 1942 as a specialized research facility (the name was later changed to the Research Institute of Endemics).

Cooperation Center of World Health Organization

Institute of Tropical Medicine
has been designated as a WHO cooperating center

In the 1940s-50s, Japanese hygienic conditions improved dramatically with postwar economic development, and deaths caused by infectious diseases were greatly reduced. This situation led to a movement to abolish the Research Institute of Endemics, with many considering its role having finished. The researchers in RIE insisted that even though the rate of infectious diseases had greatly decreased within Japan, they were still rampant in developing countries- especially in the tropical regions- threatening many lives. The researchers subsequently won out, and the institute's name was later changed to the Institute of Tropical Medicine, with the goal of using research results and know-how to fight infectious diseases.

Thereafter Nagasaki University further expanded its education and research on tropical and emerging infectious diseases. Research is mainly conducted by the Institute of Tropical Medicine and within the Infectious Research Course at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. In addition, international cooperation was also strengthened. In 2003, the 21st Century COE Program “Global Control Strategy for Tropical and Emerging infectious Diseases” (2003-2007) was implemented, followed in 2008 by the Global COE Program “Integrated Global Strategy for the Control of Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases” (2008-2012), both of which have focused on the efforts to combat infectious diseases and foster young researchers. In 2005, overseas research stations, where Nagasaki University staff can stay as long-term residents, were established in Vietnam and Kenya, focusing on the field work and clinical research. In the same year, the Institute of Tropical Medicine was designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating center. Nagasaki University plays an important role for promoting infectious disease research on a global scale.

Cooperation Center for research

The program for Nurturing Global Leaders in Tropical and Emerging Communicable Diseases implemented in 2012 is founded upon Nagasaki’s historical background and Nagasaki University’s international contributions to tropical medicine.

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  • Efforts in Tropical and Emwerging Communicable Disease Research
  • Special Interview: 'Nagasaki University Researchers'
  • Overseas Infectious Disease Research Centers
  • Global Nagasaki University
  • Links to Related Organizations
  • Nagasaki Universitry
  • The Institute of Tropical Medicine
  • Global COE Program
  • 21st Century COE Program