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Message from Yoshitomo Oka, Director of the GCOE program.

Message from Director of the GCOE program

Yoshitomo OkaWhat is “Network Medicine”? Let me explain. Impressive advancements in molecular biology have yielded significant results, particularly in the functional analysis of individual proteins and genes. In our last 21st Century COE Program, entitled “Center for Innovative Therapeutic Development Towards the Conquest of Signal Transduction Diseases”, we explored molecular targets in signal transduction disease and successfully identified a variety of target molecules. We also recognized that signals interact not only in a single cascade but that they also serve as members of a network system within individuals, and that homeostasis is maintained by a delicate balance at multiple levels, from molecules and organelles to cells, organs, individuals and even environments. We are now focusing on the concept that disease onset and development are both governed by a breakdown of the network system. This concept may lead the way to innovative new treatment strategies in coming years. We would like to call this novel approach “Network Medicine”.

Image:Network Medicine

A new goal of our project is to develop temporal and spatial integration models at the aforementioned multiple levels, with the goal of discovering unknown linkages among diseases, a so-called “Diseasome”, and to develop innovative diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive strategies based on our understanding of signal network systems. In consideration of societal demands, we will focus on metabolic diseases, cancers, and immune diseases, striving to advance the achievements of the last 21st Century COE. Our ultimate goal is to establish Network Medicine research. We will also devote our efforts to systematically cultivating a second generation of young scientists able to effectively break down the communication barriers between existing research settings and integrate a broad spectrum of research findings and educational experiences to further develop interdisciplinary translational research and education activities.

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Tohoku University Global COE for Conquest of Signal Transduction Diseases with Network Medicine