University News | August 25, 2023
Associate Professor Masaaki Kitajima of Hokkaido University, Shionogi & Co., and AdvanSentinel Ltd. were bestowed with the Minister of State for Health and Medical Strategy Award (健康・医療戦略担当大臣賞) of the 6th Japan Medical Research and Development Grand Prize (第6回日本医療研究開発大賞). The award was granted in recognition of their initiative “Implementation of Wastewater-based Epidemiology for Novel Coronavirus.” The award ceremony, held on August 23, 2023, was attended by Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan.
The Japan Medical Research and Development Awards are given to universities, public research institutions, companies and other organizations that have made a significant contribution to the promotion of research and development in the medical field by achieving groundbreaking and important results, and by developing practical application of the results of such research and development.
The award to Associate Professor Kitajima and colleagues from the industry recognizes their work in significant contribution to social implementation of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) for COVID-19, which has been utilized to understand the actual prevalence and prevent the spread of infection in multiple municipalities in Japan. They made this possible by developing highly sensitive methods for the detection of novel coronavirus in wastewater. One of the most high-profile uses of this technology was at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village, contributing to infection control measures in the village. This technology will be widely deployed in Japan to complement sentinel clinical surveillance and to prepare for the next pandemic.
“I am greatly honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Kitajima. “I would like to express my gratitude to all my collaborators, students, and everyone who has provided me with guidance and support. We have successfully implemented our technology for COVID-19 wastewater-based epidemiology, which is being utilized in society to understand its prevalence. This outcome is the result of collaborative research with industry partners, namely, Shionogi & Co. and AdvanSentinel. In the future, we will continue to develop technologies and promote wastewater-based epidemiology to contribute to building a society that is more resilient against infectious diseases.”
Written by Sohail Keegaan Pinto