• Message from the Board Chairperson

Message from the Board Chairperson

Keiji Tanaka Photo

Keiji Tanaka

Tokyo is the political, economic and cultural center of Japan. Developing Tokyo into a more healthy welfare state will therefore go a long way toward building a prosperous future for Japan. The mission of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science (TMIMS) is to promote research in the life and medical sciences to improve the lives and health of the citizens of Tokyo. It is well known that Japan has the most rapidly aging society in the world. Tokyo, which reflects Japan itself, is undergoing a steady increase in cancers and infectious diseases, lifestyle-related illnesses, neural and mental disorders, and various other health problems. Naturally, curing all of these diseases is a common goal for all humankind, and considerable efforts have been made at the national level. However, it is also essential for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to take the initiative in this endeavor. Tokyo has numerous problems unique to megacities. For instance, many people suffer from rare and intractable diseases that researchers often overlook. TMIMS has been actively working on these important problems, promptly and practically addressing health-related issues with the aim of protecting the health of all Tokyo citizens.

From early 2020 to today, the highly contagious COVID-19 disease spread throughout the world causing unprecedented damage at all levels of society. Combatting this disease is a top priority. At TMIMS, we swiftly set up a “Coronavirus Countermeasures Special Team” three years ago and in cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, we have been making every effort to develop effective strategies to eliminate this disease. Particularly, epidemiological studies such as monitoring of the resident population in the major downtown areas of Tokyo have contributed greatly to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's countermeasures against COVID-19 disease, and we have also started our own highly original vaccine development research against SARS-CoV-2. However, unfortunately, the pandemic is still ongoing and TMIMS will need to continue fundamental research in order to develop effective countermeasures to combat the disease in 2023.

Throughout history there has always been an ongoing struggle between humans and infectious diseases. In the 21st century, globalization and international human interactions have greatly accelerated academic development and the elucidation and dissemination of new knowledge. However, globalization has allowed the spread around the world. Thus, it is critically important for people in the modern world to have effective strategies for preventing infectious diseases, minimizing their spread, and developing effective cures without curtailing international interactions. This has generated a strong social demand for medical advances and solutions. With this goal in mind, scientists at TMIMS will continue to dedicate themselves to advancing basic and clinical research.

I am of the opinion that scientific research is a symbol of culture. A society cannot be considered cultured if it has no interest and knowledge of science and research. Accordingly, TMIMS aims to be acclaimed both academically and culturally for the knowledge and wisdom of its excellent researchers. Our goal is to become a symbol of the culture of Tokyo, the foremost megalopolis in the world. Academic research is often roughly divided into top-down, exit-oriented, applied research (of immediate use), and bottom-up, future-oriented basic research (seemingly not of immediate use). Balancing these two research strategies, TMIMS endeavors to operate in a flexible manner in order to achieve additive and synergistic effects. Top-down and bottom-up research strategies are not incompatible, but can work in a cooperative and harmonious manner. Throughout the history of science, we can find numerous examples of seemingly useless research suddenly becoming useful, resulting in great service to society.

Our medical researchers are energetically pursuing their research to develop preventive medicine and new therapeutic methods to protect citizens’ health. During this process, TMIMS also takes on a role in educating young researchers who will continue to develop human knowledge and contribute to social prosperity. All staff members of TMIMS are working on research in the life sciences, ranging from fundamental to practical, using cutting-edge technologies to achieve their goals.

We are working to make TMIMS the world’s premiere research institute, and advancing and enriching its research power will create an institute capable of providing wide-ranging services to society. To this end, the entire staff of TMIMS strives to help pursue incomparable fundamental research, and pass the benefits of this research on to society. At the same time, we are continuing to recruit and educate talented people to increase our momentum. Thank you for your support, which is indispensable for the further development of TMIMS.

The mission of TMIMS is to pursue research that will provide solutions for health-related problems commonly observed in large urban areas and developed countries. We pursue basic research to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms of biological pathways and disease pathology, and collaborate with municipal hospitals and clinics to translate basic research findings into technologies that can be used to predict, prevent, and treat health problems. Toward this goal, we try to identify causes of unsolved diseases in order to develop novel drugs and therapies. We study mental diseases to find effective treatment, and investigate social factors that affect mental health of people in urban area. We also contribute to improved care for those suffering from incurable diseases such as ALS to better patients’ quality of life.