Fukushima Medical, Ohio State team up on radiotherapy Universities agree on U.S.-Japan doctor exchanges

Fukushima Medical University has launched an international exchange program with Ohio State University that will focus on developing experts in cancer radiation therapy. Under the program, Ohio State University, based in Columbus, will share its world-class treatment expertise with doctors and students from Fukushima Medical University, which is in the city of Fukushima. After studying OSU’s cutting-edge know-how, the FMU doctors will build their own research framework back home to better treat patients in the prefecture. The U.S. institution will also give FMU doctors preferential admissions treatment starting next year. The deal was signed late last month. As Ohio State University students, the Japanese doctors will spend the next three years or so researching cancer radiation therapy and related fields, including gene analysis. In the future, the program will aim to expand its scope to include a wider range of medical staff, including nurses, and eventually establish a joint research framework for the two schools. OSU is known for its expertise in precision radiotherapy. Its cutting-edge equipment is capable of targeting cancer cells alone, and the doctors from Fukushima will be trained to handle this type of precision equipment. In return, FMU will accept doctors and students from OSU and cooperate on research in such areas as low-dose radiation exposure. According to the Fukushima school, there is a growing need among cancer patients for therapy with less of a physical burden because many are elderly. In fiscal 2014, FMU opened a new department specializing in radiation oncology, with more of a focus on clinical medicine. Before that, the university treated only about 10 patients a year with radiation therapy. Now it deals with over 100 annually using just five specialists. Yoshiyuki Suzuki, professor of radiation oncology at Fukushima Medical University, said he nurtured ties with doctors at Ohio State during his studies in the U.S., which led to the exchange program. “I’ll do my utmost to make the best of this international exchange program and build a system to nurture experts in radiation therapy here,” Suzuki said. Fukushima Medical University had forged cooperation agreements with five universities in China, the United States, Belarus and Vietnam before inking the agreement with OSU. The main focus of those deals, however, was to start exchanges of teachers and students, rather than cancer specialists. The Fukushima school hopes to turn its program with Ohio State into a foothold in the global cancer research network. “We would like to establish a high-standard framework of academic exchanges that benefit both sides,” said Hideharu Sekine, an immunology professor in charge of FMU’s international exchange program.