The University of Bergen breaks new ground in Japan

“Japan is a good match for the University of Bergen”, says Dean Nina Langeland at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry who recently headed a UiB delegation visiting several Japanese institutions.

GOOD MATCH: Associate Professor Husebø and Dean Langeland discussing with Dean Uemeto of Kyoto Graduate School of Medicine.
Bjørn Einar Aas

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"Japan represents unique opportunities for equality in strategic and international partnerships in research and higher education. We have succeeded in identifying joint matches between research fields as diverse as stem-cell research, cancer, public health and care for the elderly. I have invited the Kyoto Dean of Medicine to come to Bergen already later this semester", says Langeland. 

Beyond expectations

At the Kyoto University, a world leading institution in stem-cell research and the home of dr. Yamanaka, the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Medicine,  Professor Helge Ræder at the Institute for Clinical Medicine, met with dr. Yamanaka’s colleagues and engaged immediately in an discussion on advanced stem-cell research.

"Their response and interest in what we do in Bergen was beyond my expectations. I am optimistic about the opportunities to organise joint research and co-publications", says Professor Ræder.

Professor Ola Myklebost, a Cancer Researcher specialising in personalised medicine, equally experienced a great interest from his Japanese counterparts. This will likely lead to sharing of scientific data and joint research.

Ten years ahead of us

Tokyo Metropolitan hospital and Institute for Gerontology organises cross-disciplinary focuses on a wide range of issues pertaining to ageing, from basic research to translational medicine.

"It was astonishing to see the sheer scope of perspectives, the diversity in methodological approaches and research at this institution. Medicine, Public health, Demography and psychology are working together, including clinical trials and development, says Dean Langeland. “Japan is ten years ahead of Norway in cross- and multidisciplinary research,” she continues.

Japan and Norway has a rapidly ageing population. Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan has been part of a study that aims to bring a new definition of the categories of elderly, by introducing the idea that adult population between 65 and 75 years of ageno longer is old, but pre-old. Moreover, the study suggests that the threshold of being old move to 75 years of age and from there go all the way to 89 years. At 90 years of age the elderly graduate to super-olds.

Sustainable solutions

Japanese researchers are eager to find new sustainable solutions to the challenge of an ageing population. Associate Professor Bettina Husebø at the Centre for Elderly and Nursing Home Medicine engaged quickly in discussions with perspective partners in the field of ageing, end-of-life care and dementia, which she met both at the Tokyo Metropolitan,  Tohoku University in Sendai and at the Taito hospital in Tokyo.

"We share the perspectives and the same challenges. How shall staying at home be more attractive for the elderly than hospitals and nursing homes, and how do we organise multidisciplinary teams? We have a lot in in common, and the cooperation was well under way before we boarded the plane back to Bergen", says Husebø.

City of Bergen

The City of Bergen, Department of health and care, joined the UiB delegation to seek information and inspiration on how Japanese institutions organise their work for the elderly.

“We have started a discussion of cooperation between research and health care, business an industry. Japan has shown what political will can achieve when resources are efficiently organised in order to develop a modern knowledge base for practical solutions pertaining to a rapidly growing elderly population. We face the same challenge as the Japanese, and the City of Bergen will keep working with the University in the development of the collaboration in the field of health and care", says Head of Section Benedicte Løseth.

New partners – new opportunities

"We are very grateful for the careful preparations and help we have had from the Norwegian Embassy and Innovation Norway in Tokyo", says Heidi A. Espedal, Director at Division of Research Administration at the University of Bergen.

Team Norway at the Embassy has been supportive and an integral part of the success of the visit. For the University of Bergen, Japanese partners represent new opportunities for further advancement in Medicine and Health Sciences.

The visit was part of a joint project between and University of Bergen (UiB), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Innovation Norway to develop cooperation with institutions of research and higher education in Japan.