日本版NIH 医療の競争力強化の司令塔に

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 26, 2014
Japanese NIH expected to enhance nation’s medical competitiveness
日本版NIH 医療の競争力強化の司令塔に(1月26日付・読売社説)

Excellent results in medical research must lead to the development of new drugs and remedies. A “headquarters for medicine” to be established soon is expected to play a significant role in enhancing Japan’s competitiveness in this field.

The government has decided to create an independent administrative entity tentatively called the Japan medical research and development agency to promote research and development in the medical field. With creation of the agency, the government aims to unify various systems at different ministries and agencies to support the research and development of medicine.

The agency is called the Japanese version of the U.S. National Institutes of Health because it is being modeled on the U.S. organization, which leads the world in medical research and the creation of new drugs. The government plans to submit related bills to the current ordinary Diet session and to launch the new agency in April 2015.

The medical field is expected to be a pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy. The government must not let the agency become an empty letter but make it a viable organization with power to drive the nation’s growth.

The new agency is tasked with managing research and development funds from various ministries and agencies in an integrated fashion, and with distributing them to universities and other research institutes. The agency will give priority to promising fields and provide constant support to them, from basic research to commercialization of products.

As the development of induced pluripotent stem cells by Kyoto University Prof. Shinya Yamanaka shows, the level of basic research in the medical field is very high in Japan.

End sectionalism

Nonetheless, Japan lags behind the United States and European countries in the practical application of medical technology. For instance, imports of medicine and medical equipment exceed exports by about ¥3 trillion. It is problematic that a gap between basic research and clinical application has prevented companies from converting research results at universities and elsewhere into commercial realities.

Government support for research and development is sometimes not well coordinated.

For example, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is in charge of supporting basic research; the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is in charge of clinical application; and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is in charge of industrialization. The ministries often compete with each other to win budget appropriations for similar research.

To help the new agency function appropriately, it is essential to end sectionalism among ministries and agencies, and to make their support for research and development more efficient.

The new agency will be staffed by medical and pharmaceutical experts from the private sector, but it will not be easy to secure such people.

They will have to exercise good judgment in selecting research subjects with potential, and in connecting research institutes and companies to realize their product development.

There is a mountain of issues to be tackled jointly by the industrial, government and academic sectors. The creation of the Japanese version of the NIH is just a start.

While seeking to change the mindset of university researchers, who tend to overemphasize basic research, the government also should help accelerate the nurturing of start-ups that tackle the development of innovative technology with a high risk of failure.

We expect the government to build a system together with all the related sectors in Japan to increase the nation’s international competitiveness in the medical field by developing the Japanese version of NIH into a major, solid organization.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2014)
(2014年1月26日01時11分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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