Department of Global Health, Medicine and Welfare, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute

Message from Professor

Department of Global Health, Medicine and Welfare
Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University
Professor Noboru Takamura, MD, Ph.D.
Professor Noboru Takamura, MD, Ph.D.
My name is Noboru Takamura, and I am a professor of the Department of Global Health, Medicine and Welfare at the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University. I am excited to work with all of you.
I entered Nagasaki University School of Medicine in 1987 after graduating from Nagasaki Minami High School. When I was a medical student, the Faculty of Medicine building was very old, and I remember studying in the dimly lit classrooms as if it was just yesterday. Although I was busy with daily lectures and training, my days were more relaxed, unlike today's medical students. Before I graduated, the Faculty of Medicine building was renovated to make it brighter and more spacious. Fifteen years have passed since then, and today, I am pleased to announce that the new ward of the affiliated hospital has opened.

Immediately after graduation in 1993, I concurrently became a graduate student in the Department of Cell Physiology at the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute of Nagasaki University School of Medicine and worked as a resident physician at the Department of Internal Medicine 1. At the time, there were only seven residents, but perhaps because of this, we were a tight-knit group, and my time there was very meaningful despite my busy clinical schedule. I was trained by many distinguished professors, such as Professor Shigenobu Nagasaki (now Professor Emeritus) who was extremely busy back then as the Dean of the School of Medicine, and Dr. Katsumi Eguchi (now a Professor and Director of the affiliated hospital), who was the backbone of the Department as an Assistant Professor. This experience of working under such esteemed professors was a great asset to me.

After completing my clinical training, I worked as a graduate student at the Department of Cell Physiology, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University School of Medicine under the guidance of Professor Shunichi Yamashita (the current director of the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute of Nagasaki University and Global COE leader), with a focus on genetic analysis of congenital diseases. As part of my research in analyzing the gene responsible for a rare congenital disease called erythropoietic porphyria, I travelled all over Japan visiting patients and requesting them to donate blood, which I brought back to the laboratory for genetic analysis. I think this was the inception of my current work. Another great experience was the establishment of a nationwide association of porphyria patients.

After completing graduate school, I was appointed as an assistant professor at the newly established Department of International Health of Radiation Research. Here, I was involved in international collaborative research, including genetic analysis participation in health impact assessments, medical support, and medical system improvement in radiation-contaminated areas of the former Soviet Union, such as Chornobyl and Semipalatinsk. These experiences have allowed me to develop a socio-medical approach that I have continued until now. In 1999, I was recommended to the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters as a technical advisor for the establishment of the Chornobyl medical support system, especially the telemedicine. I was able to experience the evolution of the project while working with global health experts at the headquarters of the international health field. At the time, no senior students at Nagasaki University had worked at the WHO headquarters, and I experienced much difficulty in starting a project and establishing my life in a foreign environment.

Upon returning to Japan in 2001, Professor Hiroshi Saito (the former President of Nagasaki University) welcomed me as a lecturer in hygiene and I was able to earnestly promote research on international health, molecular epidemiology, and clinical epidemiology within the framework of social medicine. During my tenure, I do not remember contributing much to the department, but the open atmosphere and Professor Saito's generosity of spirit allowed me to conduct research freely. In addition, I was able to continue to work on the WHO project and engage in basic studies for the formulation of guidelines in the event of a radiation disaster. Although the move from the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute to the School of Medicine was often confusing to me, Dr. Saito, who was then Dean of the School of Medicine, gave me one-on-one guidance on not only research but also education and organizational management, at times over lunch at the Co-op.

After Dr. Saito's retirement, I was invited by professor of the department of Public Health, Dr. Kiyoshi Aoyagi, to join as an associate professor. This allowed me to expand my activities to community health and clinical epidemiology research. In my classroom full of working graduate students with varied backgrounds, their perspectives provided me with interesting contexts to diversify my research themes and complete research papers. In addition, the molecular epidemiology research of lifestyle-related diseases conducted with Professor Takahiro Maeda at the newly established Research Institute for Remote Islands Medicine on the large and small remote islands of Gotō, with the cooperation of many professors within the university, produced meaningful results. I am grateful for the varied opportunities. I have had to work in small and large classrooms over the past 15 years since graduating from the School of Medicine, which allowed me to consider the nature of university organizations, researchers, and education from multiple perspectives.

As you are all aware, the five-year Global COE Program for the "International Strategic Center for Radiation Health Risk Control" started in 2007. This center aims to develop human resources in Japan and abroad, utilizing the centers established in the former Soviet Union under the 21st Century COE Program, and radiation life science centers in Europe and the United States. The center promotes collaborations within the university, with relevant domestic institutions, and with the WHO and other international organizations related to radiation and health, to foster human resources skilled in formulating and disseminating evidence-based guidelines and standards for radiation health risk control in the future. My mission in returning to the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute of Nagasaki University after a six-and-a-half-year absence as faculty of the Department of Radiation Epidemiology is to strengthen the institute as a center of the Global COE. Through the acquisition of the Post Global COE, I would like to contribute to the advancement of radiation life science, one of the major pillars of Nagasaki University. I am certain that this is the only way to achieve this goal. I want to devote myself to educating and producing a wide range of human resources oriented toward social medicine, such as international and community health, by making full use of the knowledge, philosophy and know-how I have acquired at various organizations. However, I am only 40 years old, and I am sure I will often need to consult my fellow professors. I would be grateful for your kind support in this regard.

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