Doctoral talent cultivated in this program

The Ph.D. Program in Humanics cultivates leaders equipped with doctoral-level knowledge and skills in the fields of both biomedical sciences and physical sciences/engineering/informatics, together with the scientific expertise to achieve integration of these fields and the capacity to apply them in wider society. The program aims thereby to address challenges to human life and health and enable the sustainable prosperity of all humankind. The leaders fostered in this program are expected to become drivers of science and technology to surmount various challenges facing the world, including the onset of the super-aged society and the associated rise in medical costs and health insecurities, as well as increasing mental health problems. Resolution of these problems will require the capacity to combine the latest knowledge and technology from the field of biomedical science with cutting-edge knowledge and technology from different fields, employ the vocabulary of both fields to engage in dialogue between them, and apply deep insights into them in order to formulate new paradigms. Such paradigms can only be realized through outstanding bi-disciplinary expertise that integrates two different fields of research. Furthermore, it will be essential to seek out real-life applications for research findings on an ongoing basis, utilizing the specific capabilities of problem discovery (the capacity for conceptualization of research topics), breakthrough (the capacity to overcome difficulties sincerely and earnestly), and application (the capacity to communicate solutions to wider society and apply them in practice).

Through such initiatives as the Leading Graduate School Doctoral Program (PhD Program in Human Biology) and the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) (International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine), the University of Tsukuba has worked to develop interdisciplinary education and research in the field of biomedical sciences, and has achieved great progress therein. In the physical sciences/engineering/informatics field, the university has pioneered the field of cybernics, which incorporates insights from neuroscience, kinesiology, robotics, and other fields into cybernetics, leading to the development of revolutionary human assistive technologies such as the HAL robotic suit.

Building on these strengths, this new program defines “humanics” as a discipline that sheds light on the fundamental principles of the physiology and pathology of the “human” as an individual organism, generating new science and technology to achieve a healthy and comfortable life of human beings. Through the development of expertise and applied skills, the program will cultivate individuals capable of independently uncovering basic principles of human life, creating systems to reconstitute and assess the validity of discovered principles, and building new theories of life. The candidates of this program will pursue research, for example, on problems such as decline in cognitive function and sleep disorders in the super-aged society, adding to their previous learning in the field of medicine with studies in engineering and information science, employing fundamental neurological principles to develop artificial neural network devices connectable to the human brain, and using them to advance understanding and control of sensitivity, motivation, ideation, and other mental functions. Others who have previously studied materials chemistry in the engineering field may study medicine and develop molecular robots capable of intervening in cellular functions, enabling understanding and control of the molecular mechanisms of infectious diseases, cancer, and other illnesses.

Characteristic Features, Excellence, Competitiveness, and Future Potential of the Program

1. Combination of biomedical sciences and physical sciences/engineering/informatics

The program will build structures for collaboration between the fields of biomedical sciences and physical sciences/engineering/informatics, through a variety of horizontal linkages with university research centers, centering on the internationally competitive and outstanding International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, the Center for Cybernics Research that develops medical/nursing care robots and other cutting-edge human assistive technologies, and the Center for Computational Sciences and the Life Science Center for Survival Dynamics (TARA), both of which are working at the front lines of research internationally. Linkages will also be developed with national research and development corporations within the Tsukuba Science City (National Institute for Materials Science, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), international partner universities, and private companies.

2. Bi-disciplinary educational structure

The program will cultivate students’ bi-disciplinary expertise using a “full double mentor system” in which faculty members from the fields of both biomedical sciences and physical sciences/engineering/informatics provide research guidance to students in their respective laboratories in the course of pursuing joint research projects.

3. Seamlessly integrated curriculum from pre-admission to graduate education

The program will create a seamlessly integrated system for transition to graduate school, whereby prospective students currently studying medicine or physical sciences/engineering/informatics are offered a pre-admission program on physical sciences/engineering/informatics or medicine as applicable. This is one approach to achieving a genuine MD-PhD combined program – something which has proven difficult in Japan thus far. This reform of graduate school admissions has the potential to become a leading model in interdisciplinary education through identification and nurturing of talented prospective candidates for admission, and educational intervention at the pre-admission stage.

4. Procurement of external resources in partnership with business and complete program self-sufficiency in future

During the period of government funding, resources shall be procured through such channels as special joint research projects with business. At the end of the period, complete self-sufficiency will be achieved with the establishment of the CYBERDYNE Ph.D. Program in Humanics (tentative name) through a corporate collaboration.

Future image of students

  • Researchers creating a new interdisciplinary field
  • Entrepreneurs who industrialize complementary technology of human function
  • Medical doctors with knowledge of cybernics and informatics
  • Government administrators who can make a novel plan of medical administration
Improvement of cognitive function and mental health

Development of artificial neural network devices that can be linked to the brain, and understanding of sensibility, motivation, and thoughts, etc.

Improvement of cognitive function and mental health

Development of artificial neural network devices that can be linked to the brain, and understanding of sensibility, motivation, and thoughts, etc.