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Japan Center Established


In January 2012 the Japan Center for Health Professions Education and Research at Jefferson was established between Thomas Jefferson University, and the Japanese Association for the Development of Community Medicine (JADECOM) and the Noguchi Medical Research Institute (NMRI). This two-year pilot project is focused on coordinating the exchange of health personnel for clinical education and research between Jefferson and the other two entities.

"The Center formalizes the connection to our colleagues in Japan," says James B. Erdmann, PhD, Japan Center director. "We have a long-term relationship with NMRI. With JADECOM joining us, we expect to host many more Japanese health professionals. The center will provide a centralized system to organize training and foster research collaboration."

Joseph S. Gonnella, MD, dean emeritus of Jefferson Medical College, has long been engaged in promoting exchange of health personnel between Jefferson and Japanese organizations, specifically with colleagues Yoshihisa Asano, PhD, DPH, Founder of NMRI and our own Takami Sato, MD, PhD, JMC professor and Director of the Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Dr. Gonnella has encouraged and supported such exchanges over the last 30 years and in that time, more than 300 Japanese medical students, physicians and nurses have visited Jefferson for short and long-term training opportunities. When JADECOM approached Dr. Gonnella and Jefferson seeking similar collaboration, it was determined that a system was needed to coordinate the services required to train the visitors, who may amount to as many as 55 per year.

The Japan Center was established with several goals: Supplement the development of health professionals from Japan with experiences at Jefferson; promote the exchange of research ideas and personnel between the Japanese institutions and Jefferson; and conduct research during the exchanges. All of these activities depend on financial resources that are contributed by both JADECOM and NMRI through tuition and infrastructure support.

James B. Erdmann, PhD, is the director of the Japan Center; Charles A. Pohl, MD, associate dean at Jefferson Medical College, is the associate director; and Janice Bogen, MA, Assistant Vice President,International Affairs, is the administrative officer of the Japan Center. Yumiko Radi, MS, is the operations director. It is expected that the Center will coordinated requests not only from its sponsors, JADECOM and NMRI, but also from other Japanese institutions.

Bogen and Radi are responsible for working with Jefferson faculty to tailor the curriculum to each group of visitors according to their background, skill level and interests. Visitors may stay at Jefferson for anytime between one week and three months. In February, several groups visited Jefferson for one or two weeks. A group of nurses spent a week touring parts of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Center for Integrative Medicine, attending classes and seminars with JSN faculty and students, and observing a simulation exercise in the University Center for Clinical Simulation Skills. Physicians and residents spent two weeks shadowing Jefferson specialists. Medical students attended rounds, visited the University Center for Clinical Simulation Skills and engaged in JMC student activities, including visiting a homeless shelter and observing a debate about medical treatment options among JMC faculty.

There will be opportunities for Jefferson students and faculty to visit Japan through this collaboration, and at this time the Center is seeking the resources to provide financial support for such travel. So far, one fourth-year JMC student has spent a month at Chiba University in Japan as part of the Japan Center agreement.

A long-term objective of the Japan Center is to maintain tracking data of participants to assess the feasibility and mutual satisfaction of the exchanges.