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Department Introduction



Department Introduction


Professor and Chairperson
Hirohisa Yano M.D., Ph.D.,

Curriculum Vitae

1983 – 1987 Kurume University, Kurume, Japan
Ph.D. awarded 3/87
1977 – 1983 Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
M.D. awarded 3/83

Research appointments:

2020 – present Vice President, Kurume University (concurrent appointment)
2019 – present Dean, School of Medicine, Kurume University (concurrent appointment)
2015 – 2019 Dean, Graduate School of Medicine, Kurume University (concurrent appointment)
2007 – present Professor and Chairman, Department of Pathology
Kurume Univ School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
2002 – 2007 Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
Kurume Univ School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
1991 – 2002 Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Kurume Univ School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
1989 – 2002 Fellow, Department of Pathology
Kurume Univ School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
1987 – 1989 Research Fellow, Department of Pathology (PI: Prof. Stephen J. Galli)
Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
1987 Fellow, Department of Pathology
Kurume Univ School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan


Specialty field: Professor Yano specialized in molecular pathology/experimental pathology of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Using the HCC cell lines originally established in his institution, he is engaged in research on the antitumor effect of interferons (IFNs) and approved and non-approved molecular-targeted drugs on HCC cells. He is also engaged in research on cancer stem cells analyzing HCC cell lines in special fractions obtained using cell sorter system. Additionally, he is trying to identify the specific molecules related to the histogenesis of combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (cHCC-CCA) and portal vein invasion of HCC, using laser microdissection technology and surgically-resected tissue specimens. Currently, he is interested in pathological diagnosis support using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The Department of Pathology, Kurume University School of Medicine was reorganized in 1998, when The First and The Second Departments of Pathology were unified. Although the research interests of each department remain distinct, education and pathological diagnosis are jointly conducted.

History of the department: The First Department of Pathology was started in 1928 when Kurume University was founded as Kyushu Medical College. Professor Tsukan Yokoyama was the first chairperson of the department, followed by Professor Michio Hashimoto, Professor Kentaro Hieda, Professor Toshiro Nakashima, Professor Masamichi Kojiro, and Professor Hirohisa Yano. Since the inauguration of Professor Toshiro Nakashima, liver pathology has become a research subject of the department. Professor Masamichi Kojiro established the pathomorphological concept of early hepatocellular carcinoma. Professor Kojiro became the thirteenth administrative director of Kurume University after retirement. Presently, Hirohisa Yano is running the department with some staffs, graduate students, technicians, and secretaries.

Education: Regarding the undergraduate education program of the School of Medicine, basic or clinical pathology is taught to mainly second- to fifith-year students. For e.g., basic pathology in the second- and third and clinical pathology in the fourth- and fifth-year. We are involved in teaching basic and clinical pathology education according to the year level. Additionally, we are also in charge of conducting lectures in the School of Nursing, Kurume University, lectures and practical training at the School for Medical Technology, Kurume University, and lectures at nursing schools outside the university. Regarding postgraduate education, we are involved in the initial clinical training and specialized training programs for pathologists at the Department of Diagnostic Pathology of the University Hospital. Furthermore, we are actively engaged in the education and guidance of graduate school doctoral students seeking to obtain a doctoral degree in medicine through pathological research. We are working towards building an environment that would enable students to acquire qualifications as specialists in the Japanese Society of Pathology and the Japanese Society of Clinical Cytology.

Pathological diagnosis: We handle more than 10,000 cases of histopathological and cytological diagnoses annually in the Department of Diagnostic Pathology of the Kurume University Hospital. We diagnose all the specimens submitted by every clinical department, but we strive to ensure that each member of our department has their own expertise and makes high-quality pathological diagnoses. Conferences in conjunction with clinical departments are also held regularly to maintain close communication with the other departments. Moreover, all cases subjected to pathological autopsy in our hospital are presented at a clinicopathological conference with the participation of the attending physician and senior staff members. We believe that this can help elucidate various pathological conditions.

Research: Regarding liver pathology as a research subject, we are engaged in the pathological research on hepatic tumors, hepatic nodular lesions, hepatitis, hepatic blood flow abnormalities, and liver diseases in children using tissues collected by biopsy, surgical resection, and autopsy procedures. Moreover, we are conducting experimental and molecular pathological research on liver cancer using liver cancer tissue, cultured liver cancer cell lines, and immunohistochemical, biochemical, and molecular biological techniques. Our department has accumulated large amounts of pathological tissues from hepatobiliary cancers, which make possible to perform various research projects. Recently, using the tissues and laser microdissection technology, we are trying to identify various target molecules by collecting only the histologically characteristic parts from the cancer tissue specimen and performing gene expression analysis. Cultured cells are used for functional analysis of the target molecules. The department maintains a large amount of uniquely established cell lines from cancers of the hepatobiliary system, which are readily available for experiments. We possess patient data and histopathological specimens from which these cancer cell lines are originated. Therefore, a major advantage of this is that cancer cell lines with clear origins can be used for various studies. Furthermore, we have focused on research on cancer stem cells. Making full use of FACSAria II, which is a flow cytometry with a cell separation function, we have performed cancer stem cell identification and functional analysis for HCC, cHCC-CCA, renal cell carcinoma, oral squamous cell carcinoma, etc. Recently, we began conducting research on pathological diagnosis support using a computer equipped with whole slide imaging (virtual slide) and AI function. We are also actively promoting joint research with Japanese pharmaceutical companies and with foreign universities and research institutes. Notably, many members of this department have studied abroad in the United States and Europe as well.

Social contribution: We are actively dispatching pathologists to related-hospitals outside the university as part of our contribution to enhance the regional medical care. Accordingly, pathologists are dispatched to Kurume University Medical Center, Kyushu Medical Center, St. Mary’s Hospital, Omuta City Hospital, Yame General Hospital, Kokura Medical Center, and Asakura Medical Association Hospital. Additionally, doctors are dispatched to Saiseikai Futsukaichi Hospital, Shin Koga Hospital, Tagawa Hospital, Munakata Suikokai General Hospital, Shimada Hospital, Fukuoka Kinen Hospital, Sasebo City General Hospital, Kumamoto Chuo Hospital, Saiseikai Fukuoka Hospital, Kurume General Hospital, and Takagi Hospital.

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