March 1, 2010 through February 28, 2013



Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Tokyo (GSPS) is targeting one of the world premier research center of the pharmaceutical sciences. The purpose of the project is to encourage and qualify Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Researchers, Research Fellows, Research Assistant, and Lecturers in GSPS at the age of up to 42 years old, hereafter referred to as Young Researchers, to measure up not only in Japan but also in international research communities as members of GSPS. Applicants of Graduate Students and Young Researchers will be carefully screened from various viewpoints such as how unique, visionary, or capable, and/or future potential their research is, and whether or not they have enough skills in its research leadership. Screened researchers will be mainly dispatched overseas to world top-ranked institutes with which their advisory professors in charge of the project have forged close connections. The project aims at intensive and effective training of researchers who will play active parts in the international academic fields of pharmaceutical sciences.

Characteristics, Originality, and Needs

GSPS, the representative organization of the project, trains researchers who could contribute to the progress of Pharmaceutical Sciences by conducting the highest-level research and research-based education in every field of pharmaceutical sciences. In GSPS, however, internationalization of Young Researchers, Doctoral Students, and Clerical Personnel who support researchers has not necessarily been properly promoted, in spite of tremendous research accomplishments by associate and full professors who have rich global academic experiences. In general, it is much argued that Young Researchers are afraid to lose the promotional opportunities by studying abroad instead of studying at the University of Tokyo. (called as Exit Problem) Meanwhile, more and more Graduate Students and Young Researchers cannot afford to study abroad due to financial or other personal reasons. So they give up graduate school or to become researchers (Entrance Problem). GSPS has to deal with the quite profound and pressing problems.

Today, GSPS has about 200 master degree's students, 150 doctoral students, and 50 Young Researchers. Among them, 10-20 master degree's students, 40-50 doctoral students, and 20-30 Young Researchers have on annual average been dispatched to overseas research institutions mainly for the purpose of joint research. There are two types of stay periods: short (less than two months) and medium/long (two months or more) ones. Since most of the researches have been supported by funds of the individual laboratory unit, Young Researchers might have lost their valuable global experience despite of their excellence in research. In recent years, GSPS centered on the International Communication Committee has promoted and financed internationalization projects by three Global Center of Excellence programs (GCOE), of which the professors in charge of the projects are responsible to advance various subject matters of interests in promoting pharmaceutical sciences at GSPS. As a result, organized overseas dispatch of doctoral students has been fairly promoted, whereas the financial resources for master's degree students and Young Researchers have not been fully secured even up to the present time. The situation is particularly acute for students' presentation in international academic meeting and mid-/long-term dispatch of Young Researchers for joint research. The project is intended to aim at continuous and steadfast establishment of the world premier research center of the pharmaceutical sciences by focusing on overseas dispatching programs which could not be supported by GSPS at the organization level before, especially on short-term dispatch of Graduate Students, mid-/long-term one of Young Researchers, and internationalization of the Clerical Personnel.

Contents and Planning

1. Academic Field covered by the Planning

The Pharmaceutical Sciences project aims, based on basic life sciences, at medicinal development and its proper use of all the substances related to lives and interaction with life.

The specific field is categorized into the following three types: i) Biological pharmaceutical sciences centered on biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, immunity, microbiology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacology and toxicology for the purpose of general elucidation of life processes and discovery of drug targets; ii) Chemical pharmaceutical sciences, such as synthetic chemistry, reaction chemistry, product-of-nature chemistry, and chemical biology for designing and synthesizing functional compounds with a good command; iii) Physical pharmaceutical sciences, such as analytical chemistry and structural biology for elucidating medicinal quality and the interaction with living body at the atomic and molecular level.

2. Screening Standard and Method

Screening Standard and MethodIn the project, applicants of Graduate Students and Young Researchers of GSPS will be carefully screened from various viewpoints, such as how unique, visionary, or capable, and/or future potential their research is, and whether or not they have enough skills in its research leadership. They will be dispatched to world-top-rated institutes with which their advisory professors in charge of the project have closed contacts, and to international academic conferences (Figure 1).

The following three programs are provided:

i) Sabbatical training program for Young Researchers and some doctoral Students: Those who engaged more than three years after coming back from abroad will be appointed. The tenure period is from several weeks to several months so that their global experiences will be encouraged to develop, promoted and founded to become international leaders in the global research community. Two candidates will be accepted annually.

ii) Support program for leaders' internationalization: Young Researchers with considerable experience will be appointed to go abroad in attendance with junior Young Researchers and Graduate Students so that their overseas joint research could be promoted efficiently and effectively. The international research circumstances will train them to be excellent leaders. Five candidates will be accepted annually.

iii) Support program for overseas dispatch: Young Researchers and Doctoral Students (mainly the second- or third-grade) who seriously plan to study abroad in the near future will be appointed. They will be dispatched abroad for mid- or long-term period, for the purpose of joint research with appropriate institutes which accept them. This will provide them an opportunity to preliminarily experience of internationalization and help them smooth overseas stay for full research in the future. Five candidates will be accepted annually.

Applications for these three programs should be submitted monthly (tentative) to the Steering Committee for establishing world premier research center of the pharmaceutical sciences, consisting of professors in charge of the project and those of GCOE. Applicants are screened from the various perspectives mentioned above. Applicants should contact their host institutes abroad and obtain agreement in their project period supported by their advisory professors in charge of the project.

Application to the following two programs will be received at anytime to respond flexibly to necessity:

iv) Overseas dispatch programs for doctoral students (including some young researchers) and for master degree's students (including some doctoral students), both of which are in collaboration with GCOE.

v) support program of short-term dispatch.

The person in charge of the laboratory is encouraged to provide the recommendations to those who are interested in this program for prompt evaluation. In both programs combined, about 20 people in total are scheduled to be dispatched annually.

3. Risk Management System for Safety and Health of Appointees

Following its national university incorporation, the University of Tokyo as a whole has instituted the safety and health management system program. Should things go wrong for researchers staying abroad, the University deals with the trouble within the framework of the risk management program.

GSPS plans to take following measures to ensure the overseas safety and security: GSPS i) distributes documents and holds lectures focused on how to avoid trouble overseas; ii) recommends researchers to get vaccinated according to overseas hygienic condition; iii) trains researchers to keep contact with their advisory professors of the University of Tokyo; iv) recommends researchers to buy traveler's insurance; v) ensures emergency contact by informed about their emergency contact methods of host institutes and their home (or family home, etc.) in Japan prior to departure.

Especially, in "the educational research activities in outdoor activity", "Safe hygiene management plan" must be attached to the trip authorization document.

4. Concept of the Future Project

Concept of the Future ProjectIn order to accomplish the aim of GSPS to become the world premier research center of the pharmaceutical sciences, it is essential to train young leaders who could deeply understand, research and develop the various subjects in the pharmaceutical sciences on the basis of basic life science. GSPS also regards such young researchers as one of ideal human resources upon whose shoulders GSPS can rely and entrust its future of GSPS. (Figure 2)

In the future plan, GSPS will maintain the foundation of human resources as the member of the world premier research center in the following manner. GSPS will offer extensive education and training to researchers in biological, chemica;, physical and social pharmaceutical sciences beginning from the undergraduate and graduate courses. Its financial assistance is to facilitate not only the ongoing GCOE program and grants-in-aid for scientific research which GSPS professors have gained, but also the "Target Protein Research Program" (research representative: Professor Nagano, who is a professor in charge of this project) which started in FY 2007.

GSPS plans to accelerate to positively accept excellent foreign students and professors and will promote internationalization of the research center (laboratories) by using the above-mentioned financial and human resources and by internationally sending out globally advanced research results of pharmaceutical sciences. Moreover, through the dispatch of Young Researchers and graduate students in this project, a number of member of the world premier research center in the pharmaceutical sciences expertise with much global experience will be created and developed. GSPS, in addition, pursues recruiting excellent students and researchers from abroad by this program to enhance synergy effects. Hierarchical functioning of the real, positive feedback will form a true world premier research center of pharmaceutical sciences and make it possible to train leaders who could understand from various perspectives and develop global pharmaceutical sciences based on the fundamental life science.

5. Effect on Training of Young Researchers and Its Quality Improvement

Expected Result of Human Resources Development

In recent years, about 200 master degree's students, 150 doctoral students, and 50 Young Researchers belong to the GSPS. The performance of both short and mid/long term overseas dispatch is, however, not sufficient from the viewpoint of the world premier research center of the pharmaceutical sciences. Analysis shows that one of main reasons is that financial situation of each laboratory influence the situation because expenses mainly depend on financial resources of each individual laboratory. As the project gets promoted, Graduate Students and Young Researchers, who had otherwise no chance to have global experience in spite of their excellence in research, will get to have chances to go abroad. It leads to rapid internationalization of human resources. As a result, it can be expected that members at the world premier research center of Pharmaceutical Sciences could be developed as shown in Figure 2.

Expected Quality Improvement of Human Resources

Promotion of the project enables organizational participation in the overseas dispatch. It can be expected that not only professors in charge of the project but also laboratory staff, to whom researchers and students belongs, that is, all staff of GSPS are willing to form the world premier research center of pharmaceutical sciences and get internationalized. Internationalized consciousness among all GSPS members will get improved. As a result, internationalization of professors and staff can be expected. While encouraging researchers and students to continue their research and conducting a follow-up survey, the Program Steering Committee for forming the world premier research center of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which mainly consists of professors in charge of the project, will verify its effect on the project and will be able to utilize data for further improvement in the human resources development policy.