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Wataru Sugiura
Wataru Sugiura

The Center of Clinical Sciences of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM) is an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting clinical research. As illustrated in our organizational chart, we consist of eight departments and twenty-three rooms and encompass a wide range of activities, including clinical trial support, international cooperation, academia-industry collaboration, preventive epidemiology, and medical journal publication. We are actively involved in developing innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, ensuring their expedited delivery to patients.

During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, NCGM stood at the forefront, supporting and conducting numerous corporate trials, physician-led studies, and specific clinical research. Our relentless efforts over the past four years, starting from 2020, have been instrumental in the development of treatments and vaccines, making a significant difference in the global health landscape.

Now, drawing lessons from the COVID-19 crisis, we are focusing on establishing a research foundation for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, as described below.

Construction of a Local and International Clinical Trial Network

Despite the high number of infections during the COVID-19 pandemic, the registration of cases in clinical trials was hindered, leading to delays in development. A contributing factor was that medical institutions overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases were not necessarily equipped to conduct clinical trials or specific research, lacking the necessary infrastructure. In response, we have collaborated with medical institutions involved in infectious disease treatment, alongside Fujita Health University and St. Marianna University School of Medicine, experienced in international joint clinical trials, to establish a domestic clinical trial network (GLIDE: Global Initiative for Infectious Diseases). This initiative aims to streamline feasibility studies, centralize contract negotiations, and establish a unified ethical review system to prepare for future infectious diseases.
Furthermore, to expedite domestic and international pharmaceutical development, we have launched the ARISE network (ARO alliance for South East ASIA), a collaborative research network with Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Clinical Innovation Network

Addressing the significant challenge of high drug development costs in Japan, which can lead to drug lag and loss, we are pioneering the Clinical Innovation Network (CIN) project. This initiative aims to utilize various domestic disease registries for medical research and development, enhancing visibility and access to clinical trial data accumulated by physicians and researchers. We provide practical support to enable pharmaceutical companies and researchers to use these registries effectively, with future utility in mind.

REBIND (Repository of Clinical Data and Biospecimens of Infectious Diseases)

In addition to these initiatives, we are committed to facilitating basic and drug discovery research to expedite the identification of pathogens and the development of initial treatment methods for new infectious diseases. In collaboration with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tohoku University Biobank, and the University of Tokyo, we have established REBIND (Repository of Clinical Data and Biospecimens of Infectious Diseases) to collect clinical information and specimens from patients with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, thus supporting researchers in their analyses.

Currently, we have collected specimens related to SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox, and pediatric hepatitis, with over 500 cases registered in our bank, and we expect this number to increase. Our commitment is to build a truly functional and practical banking system.

Our innovative projects, REBIND, GLIDE, and CIN, hold the potential to revolutionize pharmaceutical development in the post-COVID era in Japan. By integrating these efforts, we are dedicated to ensuring that new drugs reach patients promptly. We deeply appreciate your guidance and support in these endeavors, recognizing that our success is a reflection of our collective commitment to global health.

April 2024
Director, Center for Clinical Sciences
Wataru Sugiura M.D., Ph.D.