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US-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program
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U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program

Organization and History

In January 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato met and issued a joint communiqué recognizing their mutual concern for the health and well-being of all peoples of Asia. The U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program (U.S.-Japan CMSP) was founded in accordance with this communiqué. The United States and Japan agreed to undertake an expanded, cooperative research effort in the medical sciences, concentrating on health problems in Southeast Asia. The relevant regions in Asia are not specifically delineated, but are generally understood to include the Republic of Korea in the north, India and Pakistan to the west, and other intervening nations in the broad Pacific Basin. Since 1968, NIAID has served as the Secretariat of the program.

Each country appoints prominent biomedical scientists as delegates to a Joint U.S.-Japan CMSP Committee (Joint Committee). The delegates review the program's objectives, operations, and accomplishments. The role of the Joint Committee is to advise its respective governments on the scope, direction, and other broad aspects of the program and to develop review procedures necessary to ensure fulfillment of the objectives for which the program was established. Through annual meetings, the Joint Committee establishes and changes policy and reviews programs in accordance with prescribed criteria.​

Areas of Study

In 1965, the areas initially selected for study in the U.S.-Japan CMSP were cholera, leprosy, parasitic diseases, tuberculosis, and viral diseases. Today, the scope of the program has expanded considerably, with nine panels and one board of scientific experts from each country overseeing research activities in the following areas:

  • Acute respiratory infections
  • AIDS
  • Cholera and other bacterial enteric infections
  • Genes, environment, and diseases
  • Hepatitis
  • Immunology
  • Nutrition and metabolism
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Tuberculosis and leprosy
  • Viral diseases

The program’s panels and board function under specific guidelines that are modified as health concerns change, research advances, and scientific capabilities expand.

Notable Scientific Achievements

Important scientific and medical advances made by the U.S.-Japan CMSP include the development and testing of oral rehydration to treat cholera and other diarrheal diseases;  developing new or improved vaccines for cholera, hepatitis B viruses, and rotaviruses; identifying the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as an effective treatment for filariasis; and developing more effective methods for the diagnosis and treatment of leprosy.

Other significant achievements of the U.S.-Japan CMSP include its sponsorship of international meetings, workshops, and conferences on health issues of concern to the countries of the Pacific Rim. For example, the Regional Conferences on “Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Rim” began in 1996 and has been held annually ever since. These conferences are designed to draw attention to the importance of emerging infectious diseases, to serve as a clearinghouse of scientific and public health information on these diseases, and to identify areas of research that need additional emphasis or support.

Another hallmark contribution of the U.S.-Japan CMSP is its continuing role in fostering the exchange of scientists between the United States and Japan, which enriches the training of young scientists and leads to important collaborative research. The U.S.-Japan CMSP also seeks research collaborations in developing countries in Southeast Asia on health topics of mutual interest.

Ongoing Cooperation

Funding for the U.S.-Japan CMSP is provided by each country. In Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare; and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology fund the program. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of State support the program.

The results of sponsored research activities are presented and discussed at annual workshops and conferences of the joint panels and boards and at the annual meeting of the joint committee. The activities of the U.S.-Japan CMSP are summarized and published every five years.​​​​​

Last Updated November 10, 2010