Faculty of Health Sciences/Graduate School of Health Sciences/Department of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

Message from the Director of the Department of Health Sciences, School of Medicine


Following the passing of incumbent Director of the Department of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Professor Hiroyuki Date, we continue to carry on his intention of addressing challenges in health sciences delivered in the “Message from the Director” and work on the growth and development of the Department.

Rika Yano
Director Pro Tem
Department of Health Sciences
School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

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As being part of a wide-ranging discipline of medicine, health sciences studies focus on key areas such as the prediction and prevention of prediseases (pre-symptomatic states) which may declare themselves with a person in good health or before the onset of symptoms, health maintenance and enhancement (especially in psychological health), post-treatment rehabilitation and meeting the medical needs of aging populations. In a broad sense of the term, health sciences play the role of preventive medicine. It includes primary prevention (protection against diseases and health promotion), secondary prevention (early detection of diseases and medical attention to those in need) and tertiary prevention (disease recurrence prevention and rehabilitation). Today medical sciences and healthcare have a whole list of challenges to deal with medical transplantation and regenerative medicine, gene therapy, safe infection practices, a society with low birthrates with an aging population and lifestyle diseases. Health sciences studies provide opportunities for students to develop skills and strategies to support the majority of the whole nation including the inpatients in maintaining their well-being from the cradle to the grave.

The human body primarily comes with its natural healing power (restoration system) to cure illnesses and injuries. Health sciences essentially aim at creating the best condition and environment in our lives and helping activate natural healing power. Since the end of World War II, Japan has enjoyed a relatively long era of peace. It has drastically decreased deaths caused by wars and food shortages and lowered neonatal and infant mortality rates. Illnesses considered incurable have turned curable, and it has brought longevity to the Japanese population. New challenges have however emerged including lifestyle diseases such as obesity and high blood pressure and new infectious diseases. Adding to those challenges, excessive life-sustaining treatments which may hurt patients’ dignity and medical malpractice address fundamental issues around how we live our lives and live together in communities. At the same time, we cannot be indifferent to the rise in cost of healthcare services and medication provision. In health sciences, it is vital to secure students who not only work hard for healthcare professional qualifications but also become the future human resources to address such challenges we face today.

Our Health Sciences Department consists of five divisions: Nursing, Radiological Technology, Medical Technology, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. The Department provides undergraduate degree programs and forms a dual structure with the Department of Medicine within the School of Medicine. Meanwhile, the Graduate School of Health Sciences for master’s and doctoral degree programs and the Faculty of Health Sciences with academic staff are independent institutions from the School of Medicine. You may find the overall structure a bit intricate. In a nutshell, our undergraduate and graduate students study under the same roof with the faculty, researchers and admin staff. They all take active roles in our Health Sciences community as one of the university bodies. In recent years, however, we have facilitated student exchanges with overseas universities and medical institutions in compliance with the university-wide efforts of Hokkaido University.

We welcome high-achieving and hardworking students with open arms to health sciences – a discipline with growing needs for human resources and high expectations for research outcomes in the global community at present and in the coming future.


Hiroyuki Date
Director of the Department of Health Sciences
School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

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