Purpose of the Program
The limited natural resources of Japan and its rapid population decline make it imperative to find solutions that are innovative and technology–based, making the pursuit for a continuous human resource development very important. The rapid aging population of Japan also causes shortage of medical treatment and nursing care facilities. Therefore, in order to create a society where everyone can live his or her life to the fullest, there was a strong call for innovation in the field of life sciences and the establishment of an academic program such as the “Life Science Innovation Program”.
Looking at the global trend, innovation in Life Science in Japan lags behind compared to other developed countries because it takes a long time before any seed of technology is industrialized. In addition, once developing countries attain their economic growth, the focus usually shifts to the improvement of “Quality of Life” (QOL). If you consider the great demand for outstanding human resources in developed countries, the creation of “Life Science Innovation” becomes imperative in order to produce globally competitive human resources.
The Life Science Innovation Program offers degrees in the research fields - Disease Mechanism, Drug Discovery, Food Innovation and Environmental Management. What makes this program unique is that the students will be provided with academic background and at the same time, gain technical expertise through internships at different national and private institution in Tsukuba City. The knowledge gained on the field of specialization will help them to find innovative approaches that are cross-disciplinary and create synergies between these fields.
Students of this program should be able to help create solutions to the emerging problems in the society by first contributing to the academic community during their stay in the university and to society, throughout their lives, by engaging in the creation of innovations for the improvement of Quality of Life.
An academic program established together with Tsukuba Science City
Tsukuba is a city located in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan and is also known as “Tsukuba Science City”, a planned science park developed in the 1960s. There are 40 national institute and more than 200 private facilities in the city.
Considering innovative approaches, the lecturers and supervisors of this program are drawn not only from the professors in our university but also from the private sector and the national institutes of the “Tsukuba Science City”, who are actively involved in industrialization processes, as part of this program’s innovation in graduate training. The professors, including those from the private companies and national institutes, have multiple roles in the program such as the creation of the curriculum, giving lectures, supervising students who will undergo internship and conduct thesis research. Students who will graduate from this program will have a holistic view of Life Science Innovation and will be ready to compete in the global job market.
Initiatives of Life Science Promotion Association of Tsukuba
Executive Director: Makoto Asashima
Various national institutes were established in Tsukuba district about 40 years ago to respond to the demands for the promotion of higher education in science and technology. Many research laboratories from the industries were also established. Since then, there have been more than 300 national and industrial institutes in Tsukuba district, serving as the world-leading science city.
However, each institute had been conducting their own research and development, making it difficult to generate the innovative research and development. Therefore, we decided to establish the system to promote collaborative research & development in the life science field in Tsukuba district and that is what we know now as the Life Science Promotion Association of Tsukuba. The association was established in February 2012 to promote excellence in life science research in Tsukuba Science City.
The association also aims to contribute to society by helping in the revitalization of education, research and development, and industry. As of 2014, a total of 19 companies and academic research institutions located in Tsukuba district, Astellas Pharma, Eisai, Ono, KYOWA Hakko Bio, Taiho and so on, make up this association. Furthermore, using the extensive collection of bioresources, we are trying to develop a common platform for drug discovery through by developing a database that enables us to conceptualize how we can maximize the use of the available biomedical resources, as well as promotion of the same in Tsukuba district among its members. The project ‘Development of innovative pharmaceuticals and medical technologies’ of the Tsukuba Biomedical Resources Consortium was selected as one of the projects at Tsukuba International Strategic Zone.
We hope that new businesses will be established through ‘industry-academic-government collaboration’ and by taking advantage of the bioresources made available to the members of the association. There has been no such system in Japan before but with our collective efforts, we created one. Now, the association, together with University of Tsukuba, takes the lead in establishing an independent graduate school, the Master's/Doctoral Program in Life Science Innovation in University of Tsukuba to contribute to the society through human resources development.
Introduction to TLSI
Program Leader: Hiroko Isoda
The Master's/Doctoral Program in Life Science Innovation academic program of University of Tsukuba (TLSI) offers talented students from around the world the opportunity to enhance their unique experiences in becoming catalysts for innovation in the society by introducing new ways of thinking. TLSI will provide great learning opportunities here and abroad, encouraging students’ interaction with leading world experts in its four specific fields of specialization – Disease Mechanism, Drug Discovery, Food Innovation, and Environmental Management.
TLSI blends the expertise of the academe and the practical knowledge of private pharmaceutical companies and the Life Science Promotion Association of Tsukuba. TLSI brings together a unique group of educators for this program - professors from University of Tsukuba, scientists from various research institutes and private companies in Tsukuba, as well as professors from top-ranked universities abroad.
Students can choose the educational experience that will suit their interests. Excellent students also get the chance to be mentored by professors from the Oxford Stem Cell Institute (Oxford, UK), University of Montpellier, University of Bordeaux or University of California in San Diego who are associated with the program. They also have a chance to engage in excellent research internships at leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies and world-class laboratories at research institutes based in Tsukuba Science City. The practical skills that they will gain from their internship in the private pharmaceutical companies will be their advantage in a very competitive international job market.