Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases-Division of Molecular Epidemiology
Welcome to the Division of Molecular Epidemiology
Division of Molecular Epidemiology
Professor: Osamu Nakagomi

Our division specializes in the Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases. Our mission includes, but is not limited to, developing a course for modern Infectious Disease Epidemiology in undergraduate medical education, and launching an entirely new one-year Master course in Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the Institute of Tropical Medicine. We also seek to contribute to the advancement of knowledge related to the evolution of rotaviruses in nature, and to map out a preventive strategy against rotavirus diarrhea in tropical countries. Professor Nakagomi, head of the division, was recently appointed as Honorary Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Genitourinary Medicine, the University of Liverpool. He has been eager to cement the research and educational relationships between Nagasaki University, the only academic institute in the country specializing in tropical diseases, and The University of Liverpool, which hosts the oldest Tropical School of Medicine in the world. Our division is in the process of reshaping itself to accomplish this mission better and faster, by recruiting new people as well as finding new partners to work together.

What are rotaviruses and what are our specific aims?
Rotaviruses are the single most important etiological agent of acute gastroenteritis in infants and young children worldwide. These viruses infect infants and young children in both developing and developed countries at a similar frequency, but the consequences are dramatically different; in developing countries about 750,000 children under the age of five die yearly due to rotavirus diarrhea, while one in about 40 children in developed countries is hospitalized due to diarrhea by these viruses.
It is said that the death of a person is a tragedy, whereas the deaths of hundreds and thousands of people are no more than a statistical figure. If so, then our goal is to make a significant impact on that statistical figure through collaboration with rotavirus researchers around the world. Specifically, we want to help in preventing the premature deaths due to rotavirus diarrhea in tropical regions in Asia and other parts of the world, where most of the people of developing countries live. We are performing epidemiologic and molecular epidemiologic surveillance in concert with the expanded Asian Rotavirus Surveillance Network and other international institutions, including the Department of Medical Microbiology and Genitourinary Medicine, The University of Liverpool, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The maxim of "know thyself " is applicable here. The other aspect of our work is directed towards the Japanese population: as defined by the number of hospitalizations or physician visits, we have demonstrated that the burden of rotavirus diarrhea in Japan is high among the many childhood infectious diseases.
The prevention and control of rotavirus disease require a better understanding of how these viruses sustain themselves in nature. We are particularly interested in the interspecies transmission of rotaviruses from animals to humans as well as among different animal species. While at Akita University School of Medicine, Professor Nakagomi and his colleagues discovered that the interspecies transfer of rotaviruses occurs through genetic reassortment (i.e., shuffling of the gene segments between two different strains of rotaviruses) and as whole virions (i.e., jumping of viruses from one animal species into a new host species of animals). In order to gain further knowledge about rotavirus circulation among different animal species as well as in humans, collaborative efforts are being carried out with various overseas laboratories and those within this country.

Undergraduate Education (Medical School)
The Department of Molecular Epidemiology is the direct descendant of the former Department of Hygiene, which was established in 1924 in the former Nagasaki Medical School. In 1945 the atomic bomb killed Professor Ookura, who studied the epidemiology of pneumococcal pneumonia, and the passion for infectious disease epidemiology also halted with his death. In a sense, therefore, the molecular epidemiology division is a rebirth of a once abandoned old tradition.
In Medical School education, Professor Nakagomi lectures about food-borne infectious diseases, including viral gastroenteritis and epidemiology, and the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

Graduate School Education
As for Graduate School education, Professor Nakagomi is playing a key role in launching a completely new Masters course in tropical medicine, in collaboration with professors in the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University. This Masters course will start in April of the 2006 academic year.
We are taking applications from prospective Ph.D. students interested in studing infectious disease epidemiology and the molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases. Those who have a keen interest in tropical pediatrics or infectious diseases are particularly encouraged to apply.

Nota Bene
Professor Osamu Nakagomi MD, PhD; Virology/Epidemiology
Associate Professor Toyoko Nakagomi MD, PhD; Pediatrics/Virology
Assistant Professor Alam Md Mahbub DVM, MSc, PhD; Molecular epidemiology
Assistant Professor Naohiro Yamaguchi MSc, PhD; Prion/Molecular biology
Academic secretarial Michiyo Yokoo MA, PhD; Hygiene/Anthropology
Postdoctoral fellow Sher Bahadur Pun MBBS, PhD; Tropical Medicine
Postdoctoral fellow Takanori Sato MA, PhD; Biomedical informatics
PhD student (2009/04~) Punita Gauchan MSc: Medical microbiology
PhD student (2009/04~) Tran Thi Nguiyen Hoa MSc: Virology
Master student Doan Hai Yen MD: Virology
Ex-members Hiroshi Saito Professor Emeritus, Nagasaki University
Kokichi Arisawa Professor, Tokushima University
Shohei Oogi Professor, Seirei Christopher College
Sanae Sasaki  
Kamruddin Ahmed Associate Professor, Ooita University
Ryuichi Uchida Assistant Professor, Osaka University
Shoko Yamaguchi  
Mohammadreza Naghipour Assitant professor, Ministry of Health and Medical Education,Iran

1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki 852-8523, Japan
TEL: +81-95-819-7063
FAX: +81-95-819-7064