Promoting research through close collaboration across departments by leveraging our assets of diversity and specialties:
For clarifying the pathogenesis and therapeutic development of wide-range diseases.

Medical Sciences
腎・膠原病・内分泌内科学分野 教授
Division of Nephrology, Rheumatology and Endocrinology Professor
田中 哲洋
Tetsuhiro Tanaka

田中 哲洋


Striving for “The Better Medical Treatment Tomorrow”



●Please describe the outline of your research.

Our department specializes in various diseases such as kidney disease, hypertension, endocrine disorders, and collagen and autoimmune diseases, and conducts research to elucidate the pathogenesis and develop diagnostic and treatment methods for these diseases.
In nephrology, we have clarified one of the mechanisms connecting microalbuminuria and cerebrocardiovascular disease. We also focus on molecular pathomechanisms of various renal diseases using genetically engineered animals and advanced measurement methods. In addition, we are conducting various clinical intervention studies based on new working hypotheses developed through large-scale observational studies in order to establish new treatment methods. In endocrinology, our ‘Tohoku University team’ (our division, Pathology, Radiology and Urology Divisions) on primary aldosteronism is recognized as one of the top centers in the world. We have recently developed the method of measuring plasma aldosterone and active renin concentrations in only ten minutes. In rheumatology, we work on various issues such as the identification of autoantibodies and the mechanisms of their production, and the characterization of immune cells in autoimmune diseases.
In some cases, depending on the research theme, we may also join basic medicine-oriented departments to pursue our research. Our research themes are diverse, but as a clinical department, we have set an ultimate goal “Making Tomorrow’s Medical Treatment Better” and striving to conduct basic and clinical research to realize it.


Department with a strong Unity; Experts in different fields closely work together.



●What is the atmosphere like in your laboratory?

The most distinctive feature of our laboratory is that it is an aggregation of multiple subspecialties such as nephrology, collagen disease, and endocrinology. As we pursue our research activities while keeping medical treatment in mind, we often realize that the high degree of specialization in each area overlaps with each other, and how important close collaboration across departments is in promoting efficient research. This feature is a great asset to our laboratory.
Historically, the Department of Hematology and Rheumatology and the Department of Nephrology, Endocrinology, and Vascular Medicine were originally part of the Second Department of Internal Medicine. Although they have been divided into different fields due to the emphasis on graduate school in 1998 and subsequent reorganization of the department, they still work together on duty at the university hospital, and the alumni association of the two internal medicine departments is also the same. Despite the differences in specialties, you can sense the strong sense of unity in our laboratory. On the other hand, our department is originally a group of people with various aspirations, including research-oriented and clinically oriented, with an equal ratio of male and female physicians. They come from various universities, and we have a culture that respects diversity, allowing them to be active in their lifestyles while fully displaying their interests and areas of expertise.



●What is your message to prospective students, including what you expect from them?

When viewing our research as life science, I believe that curiosity is the most important motivator. Many of the graduate students in our department are young or mid-career physicians who have just completed their initial training or specialty training in internal medicine, and we hope that they will engage in research activities while keeping in mind the questions and problems that they have gained through their clinical experience. Engaging in research activities during graduate school is an important foundation for those who later aim to become researchers, and it is also an invaluable experience for those who return to active clinical practice. The subspecialties that our department handles are endlessly fascinating. We hope to welcome as many new colleagues as possible.


The systems to support various ways of learning; Career paths after completion are also diverse.



●What kind of career paths are available after completion of the program? How are graduates active?

In our department, many residents enter graduate school just before or after completing their internal medicine specialty or subspecialty training. As a result, after completing graduate school, they take a variety of paths; some continue with their research activities as post-doctoral fellows or with opportunities to study abroad, whereas others return to clinical practice as specialists, or pursue academic careers.



●Is it possible to study while working at a hospital or company?

Some of our graduate students are doing their research while working as medical personnel at Tohoku University Hospital. If you are to study while working at other medical institutions or companies, you might encounter some challenges due to time constraints. However, in recent years, the systems to support diversity in working, such as the long-term study system, have been established. In fact, one of the students completed graduate school while working at a hospital using this long-term study system.

We hope to hear from prospective applicants.


The University supports the successful research: well-equipped experimental facilities



●What are the advantages of Tohoku University?

It places great emphasis on research and has systems in place to promote it efficiently. It has a system to support individual research, and there is a full range of equipment necessary for molecular biology experiments in the department so that most experiments can be completed in one’s own facility. In addition, collaborative research with off-campus facilities, including those overseas, is also very active.


自分が大学院に進学して腎臓病の研究を始めた時、指導教官から頂いた研究テーマは、進行性腎障害に共通する病態進展経路を探るというものでした。多くの腎障害で出現するアルブミン尿は、糸球体障害マーカーとしてのみならず腎障害の進展そのものや心血管合併症のリスクと相関することはよく知られていますが、病理組織学的には尿細管間質障害、尿細管周囲毛細血管網の脱落が残腎機能と強く相関し、尿細管の低酸素障害が最終共通経路の候補と認識され始めた頃です。低酸素による尿細管障害の研究を進める一方で、低酸素に対する防御機構として低酸素誘導因子HIF(hypoxia inducible factor)に注目し、HIFを介するCKDの病態修飾機構の研究にも取り組んできました。
今日では、HIF安定化作用を有するHIF-PH阻害薬が腎性貧血治療薬として臨床応用され、2019年にはHIFを介する生体の低酸素応答機構の解明に貢献した3人の先生方(Gregg L. Semenza氏、Peter J. Ratcliffe氏、William G. Kaelin Jr.氏)にノーベル医学生理学賞が授与されたことは記憶に新しいところです。くしくも近縁の領域で研究活動に従事できたことを、偶然とはいえとてもうれしく感じられます。

When I entered graduate school and began my research on renal diseases, my academic advisor gave me a research theme to explore pathological pathways common to progressive renal failure. It is well known that albuminuria, which appears in many renal disorders, is not only a marker of glomerular damage but also correlates with the progression of renal damage itself and the risk of cardiovascular complications. At that time, it was beginning to be recognized that histopathologically, tubulointerstitial damage and loss of peritubular capillary network strongly correlated with residual renal function, and that tubular hypoxic damage was a candidate for the final common pathway. While studying hypoxia-induced tubular damage, I have also focused on the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) as a defense mechanism against hypoxia, and have been working on HIF-mediated pathomechanisms of CKD.
Today, HIF-PH inhibitors with HIF-stabilizing properties have been clinically applied for the treatment of renal anemia. In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three professors (Gregg L. Semenza, Peter J. Ratcliffe, and William G. Kaelin Jr.) for their contributions to the elucidation of the HIF-mediated hypoxic response mechanism in the body. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to engage in research activities in a closely related field, albeit by coincidence.


Medical Sciences
腎・膠原病・内分泌内科学分野 教授
Division of Nephrology, Rheumatology and Endocrinology Professor
田中 哲洋
Tetsuhiro Tanaka


Graduated from the University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine in 1997, and trained at the University of Tokyo Hospital, Japanese Red Cross Omiya (now Saitama) Hospital, and Mitsui Memorial Hospital. Completed graduate studies at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine in 2005 (MD, PhD), and Studied nephrology at the University of Erlangen, Germany, in 2006. Joined the Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Division for Health Service Promotion in 2009. Appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nephrology and Endocrinology, the University of Tokyo Hospital in 2013. After serving as a specially-appointed lecturer, lecturer, and associate professor there, he has been a professor in the Department of Nephrology, Rheumatology, and Endocrinology of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine since March 2022.