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Developmental Medical Sciences

Developmental Medical SciencesOur department was founded in 1966 as the Department of Maternal and Child Health and was renamed the Department of Developmental Medical Sciences in 1992. Throughout this period, we have conducted experimental and epidemiological studies to provide scientific bases for activities that promote the physical and mental health of mothers and children. The experimental studies include examinations of the nervous and endocrine systems, infection, immunity, metabolism, and nutrition, and the epidemiological studies deal with development, the mother–child relationship, and health promotion. In 2007, joined by new members, the department entered a new era, putting more emphasis than ever on research on developmental disorders of the human nervous system, which affect the brains of fetuses, neonates, infants, and children, causing epilepsy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental disabilities.
We have collaborated with laboratories in China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam, Laos, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the United States, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Russia to promote the health of mothers and children worldwide. We also have accepted many young students from these countries to train as professional medical researchers and leaders in local health policies.

Major projects

- Studies on developmental brain disorders
- Abnormal neuronal differentiation and size control (tuberous sclerosis)
- Neuronal migration disorders (lissencephaly, polymicrogyria)
- Perinatal brain injury (periventricular leukomalacia, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy)
- Postnatal brain injury (acute encephalopathy)
- Inherited metabolic disorders (peroxisomal and mitochondrial disorders)
- Molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases (diarrheal viruses)
- Field studies of maternal and child health (malnutrition, obesity)
- Effects of fetal malnutrition on congenital anomalies and adulthood diseases
- Effects of urbanization on maternal and child health (high-rise living, child abuse, social epidemiology of infectious diseases)

General Description

Founded in 1996 as the Department of Maternal and Child Health, our department was the first one established in Japan. With the subsequent expansion of research activities and the foundation of the Graduate School of Medicine, it was renamed in 1992 as the Department of Developmental Medical Sciences. Up to now, it has been engaged in experimental and epidemiologic studies to provide the scientific bases for all the activities to promote the physical and mental health of mothers and children. The experimental studies include those on the nervous and endocrine systems, infection, immunity and metabolism, whereas the epidemiologic studies deal with development, mother-to-child relationship and health promotion. In 2007, joined by new members, the department has just entered a new era, putting more emphasis than ever on the research on developmental disorders of the nervous system.
At present, our department consists of one professor, one associate professor, two associates, one clerk, eleven visiting lecturers, eight visiting researchers, eighteen graduate students (twelve of them are from abroad) and three research fellows.
Our department gives lectures to undergraduate and postgraduate students, have weekly meetings of the whole department and of individual research groups, communicate with other investigators inside or outside the University of Tokyo, and have seminars and meetings with researchers invited from abroad.
We have collaborated with many laboratories in the United States, Canada, Germany, Greece, China, Thailand, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Russia, in order to promote the mothers’ and children’s health all over the world. We also have accepted many young students from these countries, for the purpose of bringing up professionals who either perform medical research or lead local health policies.

Teaching Activities

1. Undergraduate course, Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Science and Nursing 1) Human growth and development 2) Medical microbiology and zoology 3) Maternal and child diseases 4) Immunology 5) Maternal and child health 6) School health and nursing 7) International health

2. Graduate course, the Graduate School of Medicine, School of International Health Sciences

In addition to lectures and laboratory courses by our own staff, special lectures are given by experts both inside and outside the University.

Research Activities

A. Neuroscience/ Developmental brain disorders

●Genetic and cell biology studies on developmental brain disorders caused by abnormal intracellular signal transduction such as tuberous sclerosis, Noonan syndrome, and Costello syndrome
●Clinical, genetic, and pathologic studies of acute encephalopathies such as acute necrotizing encephalopathy and acute encephalopathy with febrile convulsive status epilepticus
●Molecular genetics and cell biology studies of the molecules regulating neuronal migration, such as doublecortin and Cdk5
●Studies of intractable childhood epilepsy and developmental disorders such as West syndrome and Rett syndrome using genetically engineered animals.
●The molecular genetics and biochemistry of inherited metabolic disorders, such as peroxisomal disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy
●Pharmacological studies on the pathogenesis and treatment of developmental disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder using genetically engineered animals

B. Virology/ Childhood infectious diseases

●Molecular epidemiology of pediatric infectious diseases, particularly viral diarrheal diseases caused by rotavirus, norovirus, adenovirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus
●Studies on the virulence, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of infection by herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus, other poxviruses, influenza virus, and HIV

C. Epidemiology/ Maternal and child health

●Nutrition and child growth
●Epigenetics of the fetal origin of adult diseases
●Mental health of mothers and children living abroad

Teaching Staff

Masashi MIZUGUCHI: Professor and Chair, since 2007
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo, 1980; D.Med.Sc., the University of Tokyo, 1989
Section Chief, Department of Mental Retardation and Birth Defect Research, National Institute of Neuroscience, Japan, 1993-1996
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Jichi Medical School, 1996-2004
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, the University of Tokyo, 2004-2007

Teruyuki TANAKA: Associate Professor, since 2007
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Nagoya University, 1987; D.Med.Sc., Tokyo Women’s Medical College, 2005
Visiting Scientist, Developmental and Metabolic Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, 1998-2000
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neurosciences, University of California San Diego, 2000-2005
Section Chief, Department of Regenerative Biology and Medicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, Japan, 2006-2007

Makiko Saitoh: Research Associate, since 2007
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Shinshu University, 1984; D.Med.Sc., Oita Medical College, 1988
Research Associate, Department of Pediatrics, the University of Tokyo, 1998-2004

Masaaki ODA: Research Associate, since 1992
M.Hlth.Sc., School of Health Sciences, the University of Tokyo, 1977
D.Hlth.Sc., The University of Tokyo, 1980
Research Associate, National Institute of Health, Japan, 1975-1980
Visiting Scientist, Bureau of Biologies, FDA (USA), 1980-1983
Research Associate, Yamanashi Medical College, 1983-1988.

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