Kurume University was established as Kyushu’s medical school in 1928. At present, it has developed as a comprehensive private university, and it consists of 6 faculties with 13 departments, 5 graduate schools, and 21 research centers.
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kurume University School of Medicine was established in 1958, and Cardiovascular Research Institute in 1959. We strive to carry out research and to contribute to the development of cardiology. Research opportunities range from basic to clinical investigation.
We are aiming to recruit young researchers who are filled with motivation to research from abroad.
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Team of uncharted territory of the aortic diseases PROGRAM
Aortic aneurysm and dissection are serious medical conditions that can lead to fatal complications including peripheral organ ischemia and aortic rupture. Currently,
therapeutic options are limited to surgical interventions and non-surgical therapies are not available, as the pathogenesis is barely known for these aortic diseases.
The goal of our research team is to clarify the molecular pathogenesis of aortic aneurysm and dissection, of which knowledge is essential to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. To realize this goal, we utilize animal models and surgical samples for molecular analyses and test genetic and pharmacological interventions to decipher the pathogenesis of these diseases.
Our endeavor to explore the uncharted territory of the aortic diseases is now revealing the disease mechanisms that involve dysregulated mechanosensing, cell proliferation and differentiation, inflammatory response and metabolism of extracellular matrix. The research is also uncovering how these biological processes are in place to maintain the normal physiology and the integrity of the aortic tissue.
Although we are obtaining a rough sketch of the disease mechanisms, every new finding generates more questions than answers for the pathogenesis of aortic diseases. To answer the numerous questions, we make extensive multidisciplinary collaborations with physician-scientists, surgeon-scientists, and basic scientists to develop a research community to tackle the mystery of aortic diseases.
Team of heart failure and cardiomyopathy
We do research focusing on the JAK / STAT pathway and its negative feedback regulator SOCS in cardio protection mechanisms and cardiac remodeling against the myocardial injury stress. We are aiming to elucidate pathological conditions such as post-infarct heart failure, ischemia reperfusion injury, doxorubicin cardiomyopathy, and remote ischemic preconditioning, using cell-specific genetically modified mice of SOCS molecules. We aim to clarify novel mechanisms of heart failure and cardio protection to find out what forms the basis of a novel strategy.
Team of therapeutic angiogenesis for ischemic diseases
Since 2000, we have been treating patients with peripheral artery diseases, such as arteriosclerosis obliterans, thromboangiitis obliterans, and vasculitis associated with connective disorders, by an intramuscular injection of bone marrow- or adipose tissue-derived cells into the ischemic limbs. The treatment method is called Therapeutic Angiogenesis using Cell Transplantation (TACT). We treated many patients with TACT; however, the treatment did not become fully effective in some patients.
Accordingly, we are now investigating with cells and animals to figure out why the original treatment was not fully effective and to develop new methods for augmenting existing effects.
Team of imaging diagnostic research
Our imaging diagnostic research team assess molecular pathophysiology in cardiovascular system non-invasively using molecular imaging in addition to the morphological imaging modalities including Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). We have visualized and quantified the disease activity of cardiovascular disease by Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). We have demonstrated inflammatory activity within coronary lesions and therapeutic effect of statin or pioglitazone using PET/CT. Recently, we are researching the molecular signals to forecast cardiovascular events and stent complications. In addition, we assess myocardial inflammatory style to predict lethal arrhythmias or death in patients with cardiac sarcoidosis. Furthermore, we conduct several clinical researches in regard to metabolism of adipose and brain tissues.
Team of pulmonary hypertension
Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is a debilitating disease characterized by vascular proliferation and remodeling of small pulmonary vessels that leads to right heart failure and premature death. In the past two decades, we have witnessed remarkable strides in the development of innovative strategies to combat PAH including endothelin receptor antagonists, phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, and prostacyclin and its analogues. Hence, the concept of poor prognosis in PH has been altered dramatically. However, PH is not still curative, because the pathogenesis of PH is fully unresolved. For clinically applicable treatment strategies, we are researching stress response of endothelial cells and abnormal coagulation/fibrinolysis in pulmonary artery focused on idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension and chronic thromboembolic hypertension. We conduct original researches reflecting our clinical data.
Team of epidemiology
The division of epidemiology has a long-term history as a research laboratory.
We have performed the Tanushimaru Study since 1958, and the Uku Study since 2002. These epidemiological surveys are 2 major projects.
The Tanushimaru Study is one of cohorts of the Seven Countries Study,
and we have performed epidemiological studies in every 10 years following up its participants every year. We plan to perform the study in next year.
We carried out examinations of atherosclerosis and nutrition, and will perform checks of stress level and cognitive function as recent topics.
The Uku study is a periodical population-based health examination.
Team of cardiac arrhythmia
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common clinically significant cardiac arrhythmia.
It increases both the risk for and the severity of strokes and is associated with substantial morbidity, mortality, and decreased quality of life. Percutaneous catheter ablation is widely used as an interventional tool for rhythm control in patients with AF. We have been treating over 200 patients with AF in a year. We aim to clarify the causes of AF and the mechanism of progression.We try to search for optimum therapeutic approaches corresponding to individual conditions. Furthermore, we try to investigate pleiotropic effects of anticoagulants or hypoglycemic agents.