Faculty of Medicine

UiB extends research collaboration with Japan

Researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Psychology have been in Japan to expand and intensify UiB's focus on Asian research collaboration.

UIB IN JAPAN: (From the left) Inger Hilde Nordhus, Bettina Husebø, Per Bakke and Kenneth Hugdahl have been in Japan to extend research collaboration. Photo: SEFAS Copyright: UiB

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– It has been a very successful trip, both professionally and socially. We have met researchers with whom we can collaborate, both through ongoing research projects and in the development of new applications, including Horizon 2020, says Dean Per Bakke at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Bergen (UiB).

All three institutions UiB is affiliated with have been awarded the "Designated University" status by the Japanese authorities.

– Tohoku and Kyoto universities also have the status of Top Global University, which shows that they are considered among the best Japanese institutions and are investing heavily in internationalization, says Bjørn Einar Aas of the Research Administration Department.

Focus on innovation

Bakke says that UiB invests in Japan because they have large resources and focus a lot on innovation.

– Their equipment cannot be compared to what we have in Norway and they also have top competence to analyze and interpret the data they receive, he says.

He believes that this tour and the contacts they are making now, will also serve as a door opener for other faculties at UiB.

– Asia is the future, and we are very pleased that Japanese universities and research institutions are positive about signing cooperation agreements with UiB, so-called Memorandums of Understanding, says Per Bakke.

Dementia is a global challenge

Professor Bettina Husebø at the Centre for Elderly and Nursing Home Medicine (SEFAS) says that this research collaboration fits into UiB's focus area Global Societal Challenges.

– An increasing aging population and a greater proportion of people with dementia are a global challenge in the years to come. When more elderly people are living longer with dementia, we both in Japan and Norway need to think in another way to meet the needs this creates, she says.

In Japan, 80 percent of residents die in hospitals, while in Norway, 50 percent die in nursing homes.

– This is not financially possible in the future without better utilization of resources. Developing and testing new technology adapted to people with dementia and their relatives is a joint venture, adds Husebø.

Glasses with sensor

Brain scientist Professor Kenneth Hugdahl, at the Department of Biological and Medical Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology (, UiB, was also in Japan. He highlights the contacts the delegation has associated with Japanese scientists, especially at Tohoku University in Sendai.

– Professor Ryuta Kawashima has, among other things, developed technology that can follow elderly patients with dementia in a completely different way and which provides valuable data for research, including using sensors in patients' glasses that communicate when they dip in their chair, and when they wake up again. This is one of many ways to conduct dementia research, he says.

Hugdahl also visited Nihon University where scientists demonstrated technology that measured blood flow to the front of the brain. The equipment can be used to complement Hugdahl's own brain blood flow research.

Strong professional community

Professor Inger Hilde Nordhus at the Department of Clinical Psychology, UiB, thought it was exciting to get to know Japanese researchers, like as the sleep researchers at the Faculty of Psychology at UiB, are concerned about what sleep and sleep patterns mean for the health and functional level of people with dementia.

– There was a strong academic community between us and the Japanese. This makes it possible with collaboration on research and project development. These researches can also give us knowledge about the relationship between dementia and nutrition, that we have been less focused on, says Hilde Nordhus.

Both the Faculty of Medicine and Psychology will receive re-visits from researchers from Tohoku University and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology during the spring semester.