Since completion of human genome project at the beginning of the 21st century, we, medical scientists, have been in a new and exciting era: recent explosion of progress in human genetics and genomics and development of new technology such as genome editing and a wide variety of imaging technology enable us to tackle the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of human diseases, whose elucidation is the ultimate goal in medicine. This progress gives us a hope for treating people who suffer from intractable disorders, but drug discovery and development itself is far behind people’s expectation. This discrepancy demonstrates many obstacles for us to conquer, in a process of delivering exciting new findings at bench side to therapeutic development at bedside. Such obstacles lie in many places, i.e., in academia where medical research is conducted, in pharmaceutical companies where new drug discovery and development is taking place, and in collaboration between the two. Our mission is to develop talents and strategy that solve these obstacles and accelerate processes of drug discovery and development by all means bridging academia, pharmaceutical companies, and other parties including policy makers and regulatory agency.
At the Department of Drug Discovery Medicine of Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, we work closely with supporting pharmaceutical companies and nurture people with talents required for drug discovery and development in a new era. We accept both medical graduates and graduates from other disciplines for our master’s and doctoral program. In Layer 1 of our program, lectures and laboratory courses will be provided for non-MD students to acquire systematic knowledge of core basic science in medicine. In Layer 2, all students further acquire essential knowledge in the current drug discovery and development such as clinical human genetics, bioinformatics, etc. and, in Layer 3, they participate in a series of seminars studying pathophysiology of human diseases and engaging in active discussion on target identification and development of new therapeutic modalities using several diseases as representative examples. Finally, in Layer 4, trainees are exposed to studies in wider areas related to drug discovery and development such as bio-bank, big data science, precision medicine, clinical trials, intellectual properties, regulatory science, and business models, all of which are important in filling gaps among academia, companies and society to facilitate delivery of drugs to the patients. In parallel with such educational course works, students conduct their own research projects by participating in academia-pharma collaborative projects ongoing at the Medical Innovation Center and other departments of Kyoto University. The goal of our curriculum is to make graduates ready to work in a wide variety of positions in drug discovery and development, including (not limited) researchers both in academia and pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurs, managers in drug discovery and development, and managers in academia-pharma collaboration.
For drug discovery and development, bidirectional approaches are essential, that is, how we can develop experimental system for drug discovery and development based on information obtained by research on human diseases, and how we can validate clinical efficacy of findings from experimental system such as animal models in patients. Students are asked to identify problems in these processes in drug discovery and development, and find solutions and/or new technology to overcome those problems. Both Master’s and Doctoral students can participate in ongoing collaborative drug discovery and development projects conducted by staffs at the Medical Innovation Center.
Researchers in drug discovery and development
(academia, pharmaceutical companies, bio-venture companies)
Managers in drug discovery and development in pharmaceutical companies
Coordinators in academia-pharmaceutical company collaboration
Translational research coordinators
Analysts for big data science/medicine
Digital health managers