The history of mankind is the battle against infectious diseases. In the
past, most of the death was due to infectious diseases. Improvement in
public health hygiene and development of anti-microbials and vaccines have
made it possible to treat and prevent infectious diseases. Owing to those
advances, people in 1960s and 1970s had an optimistic view that infectious
disease was a disease of the past. However, in the 1980s, infectious disease
emerged as a prominent issue again. One perfect example would be the global
spread of the virus that caused SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
The spread of this disease occurred from southern part of China to other
parts of the world through airline passengers. After this outbreak, we also experienced newly emerging infectious diseases, such as the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus, the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak, and the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic. In this era
of globalization, it is difficult to contain the infectious disease without
international initiative. To date, infectious disease is still the leading
cause of deaths among the under-five children and plays a significant role
in adult illness. While the public health impact of the infectious diseases
has decreased in Japan so far, it still has a significant impact globally.
Therefore, in our Department, we mainly focus on the evolution and pathogenesis
of viral infectious diseases and their public health consequences. Basic
principles of our activities are as followings:
Research on controlling infectious diseases: Our research themes are relevant,
not only in the basic science, but also in the field of infectious diseases
response and preparedness.
Field-based Studies: We believe in looking at an infectious disease from different perspectives for its better management. We are therefore conducting not only laboratory-based studies, but also field studies based in the community, public health centers, clinical set-ups, and even in the environment.
Conducting researches in broader perspective: We are always open to conduct
researches on any viral infectious diseases in different perspectives for
better understanding on the evolution of emerging and reemerging infectious
diseases. We are therefore not always focused on our expertise to a particular
infectious disease; we rather respond to a wide variety of infectious diseases
depending on their public health importance.
Research on global perspectives: We are conducting collaborating studies
in Asia, Africa and South America. We also contribute to the emergency
response and preparedness activities of the World Health Organization and
other international organizations. In addition, we are also collaborating
with domestic institutions and universities. We believe in the idea that
the spread of infectious agents is not limited to any geographical boundaries,
thus, there are no borders for conducting research on infectious diseases
Our approach of doing research works are mainly based on two major perspectives: the laboratory-based researches and field-based researches. The laboratory based researches are mainly focused on the molecular evolution of viruses. The biological specimen that we used in our experiments, are usually collected from our field set-ups. The other field-based research group tackles the infectious disease from the public health perspective. We are capable of conducting studies on wide range of field in infectious diseases. I am looking forward to working with the researchers to contribute for controlling the infectious disease across the globe.
Hitoshi Oshitani, MD, PhD, MPH
Professor, Department of Virology
Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine