Rutgers, RWJBarnabas Health to partner with Hiroshima University on health sciences research

Agreement, signed on 1st day of East Asia Economic Mission, will allow for more cancer research — among other potential collaborations

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health on Sunday signed a letter of intent with Hiroshima University to create a joint effort to advance cancer research and education between New Jersey and Japan.

The LOI was signed on the first full day of the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission that is being sponsored and fully funded by Choose New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy was joined by Dr. Mitsuo Ochi, president of Hiroshima University — one of the top public research universities in Japan — for the signing.

“With today’s ceremony, we will establish a new, cross-continental partnership — one that will enable our top minds in New Jersey to engage and exchange ideas with researchers here in Hiroshima,” Murphy said. “In the years to come, I am confident that this partnership will lead to important breakthroughs, especially when it comes to caring for cancer patients in New Jersey, Japan and around the world.”

Under terms of the LOI, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, RWJBarnabas Health and Hiroshima University’s Hospital Clinical Research Center agreed to future collaboration on digestive tract cancer clinical trials.

The agreement also creates an exchange between top researchers and students, fostering inquiry and innovation by offering access to new technologies, research methods and opportunities for mutual advancement in New Jersey and Japan’s health sciences industries.

The agreement will allow RBHS, RWJBarnabas Health and Hiroshima University researchers and undergraduate and graduate students to study, conduct and present research across the respective institutions, creating new academic, business and research & development opportunities in New Jersey and Japan.

The LOI was signed by Tony Calcado, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Rutgers University; Mark Manigan, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health; and Ochi.

Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, said the LOI shows how Rutgers and RWJBH are increasing their presence on the global stage.

From left, Tony Calcado, Gov. Phil Murphy, Mitsuo Ochi and Mark Manigan.

“This historic collaboration between Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health with the Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences of Hiroshima University, a leading institute in cancer research, among other areas, is part of a broader initiative to expand Rutgers Health’s research and clinical strengths globally,” he said.

“This visionary partnership presents a strategic opportunity for both institutions to advance investigator-initiated research in areas including cancer, clinical trials and epidemiology studies to further our missions of advancing innovative strategies in high-quality patient care, education and research. We also look forward to exploring opportunities for further collaboration beyond research, such as sharing academic materials, organizing symposia and developing an exchange program for students in the biomedical and health sciences.”

Manigan agreed.

“RWJBarnabas Health is exceptionally proud to be a part of this incredible global academic collaboration,” he said.  “By signing this letter of intent, we are transcending traditional academic boundaries to foster and advance clinical research and education with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes internationally.”

Ochi expressed his enthusiasm for deepening cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in medicine — not just technology.

“Hiroshima University, in conjunction with the 2023 G7 Hiroshima Summit, joined a significant U.S.-Japan collaboration known as UPWARDS. This initiative involves five Japanese and six American universities working together to boost research and development in the semiconductor field, thereby developing human resources,” he said.

“Following today’s agreements, I envision Hiroshima University actively participating in academic and researcher exchanges in the field of health care with Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health, making noteworthy contributions to health care both locally and beyond.”

Hiroshima University stands as one of the top comprehensive research universities in Japan, covering a wide spectrum of academic disciplines. Hiroshima University is at the forefront of cutting-edge research in diverse fields such as knotted chiral meta matter, genomics, brain sciences and nanodevices.

Ochi said the school is committed to advancing medical care and contributing to community medicine, noting that Hiroshima University was 10th in Japan in a 2021 ranking of universities based on the total number of clinical medical papers published in Q1 journals.

Since 2018, Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health have collaborated to create New Jersey’s largest academic health system, encompassing eight schools with more than 1,500 faculty and 450 clinical trials at any given time. RBHS is a top-ranked graduate program in New Jersey and delivers $500 million annually in research activities, standing as one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based centers for studying and improving human health and health care.

“Research is at the heart of New Jersey’s standing as a leading global innovation hub,” Choose New Jersey CEO Wesley Mathews said. “Today, we take another step in strengthening our state’s innovation ecosystem with a leading Japanese research university.”

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, the former President Barack Obama aide and mayor of Chicago who has been a proponent of advancing educational linkages between Japan and the U.S., said the LOI is great step for global research.

“In a world where boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s collaborations like these that remind us of the power of knowledge and the pursuit of innovation are worthy endeavors,” he said.