Vol. 21, No. 5
Chemistry Graduate School Curriculum and Its Contribution to the Pharmaceutical
Industry in Japan
Dr. Thomas J. Perun (Tjperun@aol.com),
Titular Member and Secretary of the IUPAC Chemistry and Human Health
Division and its Medicinal Chemistry Section Committee (VII.M), has
helped make it possible for us to reprint with permission the following
article, which was originally published in MedChem News (Japan),
No. 4, November 1998, pp. 21-28. The survey it reports represents the
efforts of the Medicinal Chemistry Section's Working Party on Medicinal
Chemistry Curriculum to examine the relationship between academia and
industry in Europe, Japan, and the United States. We thank the Working
Party Chairman, Professor C. R. Ganellin (c.r.ganellin@ucL.ac.uk),
and Dr. Toshihiko Kobayashi (KOBAYASHI_TOSHIHIKO@Lilly.com)
for compiling the results of this important survey and for preparing
the original article.
Survey Outcome and Analysis
While the relationship between academia and industry
is frequently examined from the perspective of research and technical
collaborations, it is also important to view it in terms of supply of
human resources by academia to meet the demands of industry.
In 1996, the IUPAC Medicinal Chemistry Section initiated,
under the leadership of Professor C. R. Ganellin of London University,
a survey of the education curriculum as well as the contributions and
activities of graduate students in medicinal chemistry. Involved in
the survey were participants from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,
Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.*
Based on Japan Pharmaceutical
Manufacturing Association (JPMA) 1997 data (Figure 1), Japan accounts
for 21% of the worldwide pharmaceutical market. Considering the importance
of the Japanese market, the IUPAC survey was extended early in 1997
to determine how well pharmaceutical-related academia in Japan contributed
to the pharmaceutical industry's current success.
While 30 professors and/or deans kindly responded to
the survey despite their busy schedules, the global questionnaire caused
inconveniences and difficulties among the responders because the questions
were in English, did not reflect the local university system, and were
not always self-explanatory.
Obviously, the Japanese university/college curriculum
is different from that in the United States and Europe. About 120 years
ago, the pharmaceutical sciences in Japan started using organic chemistry
in line with German chemistry. This initial process was further accelerated
at the advent of World War I (1914), which halted export of pharmaceuticals
from Europe to Japan and, consequently, fostered local firms to manufacture
As post-World War II technological developments were
introduced, pharmaceutical sciences in Japan comprehensively developed
and diversified through collaboration with biology. For example, in
1976 the government reformed Patent Law by adopting the "substance"
and "use" patent system in addition to the "manufacturing"
patent for pharmaceuticals. This reform triggered new challenges for
the Japanese pharmaceutical industry, which was plunged into worldwide
competition for drug discoveries. As a result, pharmaceutical sciences
were necessarily diversified into biology through etiological approaches.
A prototype of the curriculum and organization of the
research laboratories at the graduate school of pharmaceutical sciences
for the university with the longest history is presented in Table
There are three types of universities/colleges in the
pharmaceutical sciences in Japan. To understand and interpret the survey
outcomes properly, a brief explanation is useful.
Seven Imperial Universities were established before the
end of World War II. Six of the seven have a graduate school and undergraduate
faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. These institutions are primarily
research oriented. Academic staff are registered at the graduate school
and also serve as undergraduate faculty.
Of the more than 100 National and Public Universities
established after World War II, 11 have a faculty of pharmaceutical
sciences. These universities also include a research-oriented graduate
school. Academic staff, however, are registered as faculty of pharmaceutical
sciences and simultaneously direct research at the graduate school of
the same university.
There are hundreds of private universities and/or colleges
in Japan, and 29 have a faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. These institutions
are principally education oriented (fostering qualified pharmacists
at hospitals and pharmacies) but maintain a research orientation through
the graduate school. All academic staff are registered as faculty.
Several definitions of medicinal chemistry can be found
in the literature, but they vary widely. In fact, quite different interpretations
exist for each definition. For this survey, we proposed a rather flexible
definition: medicinal chemistry is chemistry with medicinal objectives
and goals. This definition encompasses chemistries relevant to and/or
involved in the process of medicinal discovery, development, or commercialization,
including organic/synthetic chemistry; biochemistry/pharmacology; pharmacokinetics
and pharmacodynamics; formulation; drug design; computational chemistry;
combinatorial chemistry, etc. In other words, medicinal chemistry would
be a technical expertise endorsed by deep knowledge and technology specified
in organic/synthetic chemistry, biochemistry/pharmacology, pharmacokinetics
and pharmacodynamics, formulation, computational chemistry, combinatorial
Survey Outcome and
The survey results should be very helpful and useful
for overseas medicinal chemists in understanding medicinal chemistry
and pharmaceutical sciences in terms of the relationship between academia
and industry in Japan. However, an additional survey with more systematic
and customized questionnaires is recommended in Japan. It is hoped that
this issue will be discussed at a meeting of all deans of graduate schools
and faculties of pharmaceutical sciences in Japan.
We are highly grateful to all professors and/or deans
who kindly responded to our rather time-consuming questionnaires. Also,
many thanks are due to Prof. K. Koga (Tokyo), Prof. Y. Sugiura (Kyoto),
Prof. T. Shioiri (Nagoya), and Prof. T. Kunieda (Kumamoto) for their
kind discussion in analyzing and commenting on the survey results.
*A separate survey for the United
States was conducted by C. R. Ganellin, L. A. Mitscher, and J. G. Topliss
(Med. Res. Rev. 1998, 18, 121_137).