Mar./2007
(STRATEGIC PROPOSALS)
Promotion of Innovation through Integration of Medicine and Engineering - A Grand Design for Integrated Medical and Engineering Research -/CRDS-FY2006-SP-14
Executive Summary

Clinical medicine in Japan has a long tradition and the internationally high standard of medical care has been maintained. On the other hand, a tremendous amount of research funds have been injected to understanding of life through the research on life science and the wealth of knowledge has been accumulated as research achievements, resulting in progress of the integrative understanding. However, because the mechanism to allow clinical medicine to incorporate the achievements of fundamental research is weak, the progress of life science research has not been effectively linked to clinical research and actual diagnosis and treatment. Because of that, despite of their high potentials, innovation of medical technologies has not been fully developed. On the other hand,, potentials for technical accumulation in engineering which has supported the manufacturing industry in Japan and for solution of realistic issues are very high on a worldwide scale.

This strategic initiative proposes to connect and integrate the scientific knowledge in clinical medicine and life science by means of engineering methodologies, promote synergetic development of each discipline and meet social needs in clinical practice.

The state-of-the-art technologies to be developed by integration of medicine and engineering will enable micro-level diagnosis and treatment from cellular to molecular levels and evidence-based medicine based on engineering quantitative and reproducible capabilities. By this, accuracy and efficacy of diagnosis and treatment, as well as safety will dramatically improve compared with conventional technologies. That will also enable low-invasive and non-invasive diagnosis and treatment, enormously alleviating the accompanying pain. Such technologies are also expected to enable super early discovery of diseases and make a great contribution to preventive medicine. As a result, many people can benefit healthy and long-life living.

Although the research and development investments in this field will not be small, people can spend more comfortable and high-quality life than at present, which will lead to improvement of social values. The probability of technological innovation is also high in this field and we may be able to reverse the current situation in which there are no Japanese companies that can produce the world-class technologies other than endoscopes and some medical devices. It is also highly possible that a world-level new medical industry that takes advantage of the strengths of Japan will emerge.

In formulating specific research and development agenda, this proposal is designed not only to produce noteworthy achievements that can create social and economic values in the research and development of clinical medical technologies but also to induce significant innovation in life science and engineering through the integrative research.