Supporting a New Generation of Medical Education by Investing in People


On the morning of 18th December, I gave a lecture at the Yayoi Auditorium located in Todai’s (University of Tokyo) campus for the Faculty of Agriculture. This talk commemorated the founding of the Japan Society for Clinical Epidemiology (in Japanese).

It’s good to see an academic society dealing with this kind of topic being formed. I believe it will be indispensable to the education of the future generations of doctors in Japan.

This society was set up by one of the foremost academics in this area, Dr. Shunichi Fukuhara (Kyoto University) (in Japanese) . He has long been involved through the field of epidemiology in mentoring a new generation of doctors.

I believe that Japan’s medical school community has fallen off the pace in recent years by as much as two decades, with its educational system, academic societies, specialist education, and certification processes unable to keep up with the dizzying pace of change that we see across the world today.

The reason why I think so is clear. If you look at my last lecture from 20 years ago at Todai (in Japanese, with summaries in English), or my Plenary lecture at annual convention of Japanese College of Physicians conf (in Japanese) and elsewhere , or my opinions about how the educational curriculum should be (in Japanese), it is a stark reality that nothing has changed.

To mark the launch of this society, I was invited to give a talk. I introduced the audience to some programs that are well-established in the US, from around the 80’s, but are not yet part of the conversation in Japan, along with some initiatives that I started with my fellow researchers.

Here are the slides that I used.


The Legacy of Dr. Bälz


This year was the 140th anniversary of the arrival of Dr. Bälz in Japan. He was a key medical doctor who helped usher in modern western medicine and laid the foundations for a medical education system in Japan, all those years ago.

And the 22nd of November, 1901, was the day a grand party was held to commemorate his 25th year in Japan.

Bälz makes reference to this special event in his diary (in Japanese), along with a poignant and important message (in Japanese) that is referenced even to this day.

Coincidentally, the Igakukai Shimbun, a weekly that is widely read by medical doctors and students in Japan, had an interesting article in its edition for the 21st of November (exactly 115th year of his speech). It was a conversation (in Japanesepdf version) between Dr Ryozo Nagai, President of Jichi Medical University and an expert on Dr. Bälz; Dr Moritz Bälz, the great-grandson of Bälz’s younger brother, and myself. I say coincidental, because the concept of this conversation had been thought of nearly a year ago, and things started falling in place around spring, making it difficult to gauge when we would actually be finished. This makes it all the more special that it just happened to be on this day.

I would really like people who are involved in medicine, whether it be clinical medicine, general practitioners, medical researchers, or people involved in the wider sense of the term like care-givers and of course, aspiring medical students, to read this article. I have put it up here so that people can read it and reach me with any comments. I await!

Life is truly filled with inexplicable coincidences, such as my meeting with Mr. Bälz, or the date of publication of this article.