Funding Program for Next Generation World - Leading Researchers (NEXT Program)

Funding Program for Next Generation World - Leading Researchers (NEXT Program)

This program prov ides a research-support system for researchers who have the potential to be world leaders in their respective fields of science and technology. The Japanese government's "New Growth Strategy(Basic Policies)Toward a Radiant Japan"(Cabinet decision on December 30, 2009)calls for advancing a wide spectrum of research, from basic research that generates new sciences and technologies to current R&D that ha s near-future applications. By supporting the kind of cutting-edge research mandated by the New Growth Strategy, the program seeks to spur mid-to long-term S&T advancement, while contributing to the continued growth of Japan a s a nation and the solution of pol ic y-focused and societal issues.

Trans-disciplinary study on the molecular mechanism and physiological role of autophagy

Principal Investigator: Noboru MIZUSHIMA, Professor of Department of Physiology and Cell Biology (Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences)

While all components of our bodies are constitutively synthesized, they are also constitutively degraded or eliminated. Whole organisms and even individual cells can maintain their function and freshness through recycling their own constituents (e.g. proteins and organelles) and can adapt to various internal and external changes. The aim of this research is to reveal the biological significance and molecular mechanism of autophagic degradation by trans-disciplinary studies, and to provide novel concepts and therapeutic targets.

Development of a new therapeutic strategy against pathogenic bacterial infection by using genome information and regulation of autophagy

Principal Investigator : Ichiro NAKAGAWA (Medical Research Institute, Department of Stem Cell Biology)

The evolution of pathogenic bacteria is constantly occurring as they spread their habitat and adapt to new environments. In response to such environmental changes, bacterial genes have been evolving to acquire new phenotypes such as pathogenicity. Therefore, we try to clarify the evolution of pathogenic bacteria and to determine strain-specific pathogenic gene clusters by using comparative genome analysis and bioinformatics techniques. In addition, we also try to analyze the anti-bacterial effect and regulation of autophagic degradation mechanism. Our goal is to elucidate new therapeutic methods for efficient elimination of specific bacteria.

Development of Postgraduate Educational Program for Mid-Level Providers (Advanced Practice Nurses) and the Innovation of a Healthcare Delivery Model

Project Director: Dr.Tomoko INOUE at Graduate School of Health Care Sciences

Healthcare in Japan has urgent issues such as the increasing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases and the lack of or uneven distribution of medical providers. Mid-level providers are the healthcare providers who are able to provide medical care independent from physicians. In other countries, advanced practice nurses (APNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) are examples of such providers who have received graduate-level nursing education. In this project, we aim to develop APNs in our country and to propose a new healthcare system. By having ongoing discussions with related institutions, we will identify the role and function of the APNs suitable for our country and create an educational program for developing APNs. Then, with the cooperation of partner universities overseas, we will implement an APN education program composed of on-demand lectures and small group lab sessions using the “Trainthe-Trainers Approach”, with current certified nurse specialists (CNSs) as prospective students. Through this project, we hope to pursue a new interdisciplinary approach and to propose the creation of a new healthcare industry.

Elucidation of the mechanisms of hair follicle ageing by focusing on stem cells

Principal Investigator : Emi NISHIMURA (Medical Research Institute ,Department of Stem Cell Biology)

In this ageing society, treatment and prevention of ageing-related diseases such as cancer has become a serious and important issue. However, the underlying mechanisms leading to ageing-associated tissue changes and the contribution of those changes to the diseases are still largely unknown. We previously identified melanocyte stem cells in mammalian hair follicles as a reservoir for melanocytes which produce melanin pigment for hair pigmentation. Then we found that incomplete maintenance of this cell population causes hair graying, the most obvious sign of ageing in human.
 To understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hair graying and hair loss, we will focus on ageing-associated changes in melanocyte stem cells and hair follicle stem cells in mice to determine the underlying mechanisms of age-associated tissue changes and the mechanisms of stem cell maintenance which sustain young tissue homeostasis. Our approach will reveal the precise regulatory mechanisms of tissue stem cells that are essential for regenerative medicine and also give some clues to develop new therapeutic strategies for the prevention of cancer and other ageassociated diseases.