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  • Post 3/11: Interview Based Narration of Japan's Progress
  • Post 3/11: Interview Based Narration of Japan's Progress

    This corner is aimed to be an informative resource for ToMMo, helping to educate the international community (myself included) about the activities occurring at ToMMo in relation to the disaster relief efforts and progressive genomic medicine. Through the interviews of people integrally involved in disaster research and restoration, readers can obtain a greater understanding of the challenges and successes Japan has experienced since 3/11.

    About the Interviewer

    Nicole_nicoleNicole Gunawansa is a Luce Scholar (2014-2015) from the United States of America. The nationally competitive Luce Scholars Program was started in 1974 by the Henry Luce Foundation to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. For her Luce Year, Nicole is working in Sendai with IRIDeS* and ToMMo, evaluating the impact of natural disasters on healthcare. She is also interested in the mental health conditions of disaster victims, and will be doing PTSR research with Dr. Tomita's Lab in the Department of Disaster Psychiatry during her stay in Japan. In the future, Nicole hopes to work with Doctors without Borders. She anticipates that the knowledge obtained this year will help her reach her goal of becoming a well-rounded physician.

    Nicole has a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Washington and Lee University. She enjoys singing, volunteering, and traveling. In 2012, Nicole visited Kanazawa, Japan with a university class and greatly enjoyed the culture and food she experienced there. She is excited to be back in Japan for this year, and looks forward to learning about the Tohoku region.

    IRIDeS*: International Research Institute of Disaster Science

    Interview-Based Narrative: A Window into Japanese Resilience Post 3/11

    Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) is Japan's forerunner in the ever developing world of bio-banks and genomic cohort based research. This complex domain of Big Data was uncharted territory for me prior to arriving in Asia, but I have come to comprehend and appreciate this new approach to medicine through my work with ToMMo's publicity department. The interview series I have conducted with this department has given me the fortune of meeting inspiring disaster first-responders, dedicated physicians and researchers, and even the Miyagi Prefecture Disaster Medical Coordinator and the Executive Director of ToMMo. Through these interviews I have come to grasp the aspiring objectives of various innovative organizations working to help the Tohoku region build back better: 1) improve the physical and mental welfare of the disaster affected populations with genomic based medicine, 2) create a new, community wide medical record system heavily based on ITC, and 3) alleviate the doctor shortage in the devastated coastal area by establishing a fellowship rotation program "ToMMo Clinical Fellows (TCF)" geared towards capable physicians. From generating questions to interviewing to constructing politically correct write ups, I have been involved in every-step of this project, and have consequently discovered the perfectionistic, scrupulous nature of public relations. Moreover, I have developed copious understanding about disaster medicine (as well as public health), preparedness, and prevention. Incredibly poignant and powerful, chronicling 3/11 history rooted in personal anecdotes has been one of the serendipitous highlights of my Luce Fellowship year in Japan.


    3/11, Disaster Medicine, & ToMMo: Perspectives from the Executive Director
    (Interview with Dr. Yamamoto, November 10th, 2015)
    Discovering Disaster Dentistry (Interview with Dr. Tsuboi, July 27th, 2015)
    Delve Deeper: Understanding the Neuroscience behind Disaster Recovery
    (Interview with Dr. Yasuyuki Taki and Dr. Atsushi Sekiguchi, June 23rd, 2015)
    Internal and Disaster Medicine Integration (Interview with Dr. Yukari Tanaka, May 15th, 2015)
    Obstetrics and Disaster Preparedness (Interview with Dr. Junichi Sugawara, February 18th, 2015)
    Disaster Relief and Community Medicine in Tohoku (Interview with Dr. Tadashi Ishii, January 14th, 2015)
    Interview with Dr. Kiyomoto from the Department of Community Medical Supports (December 2nd, 2014)
    Interview with Dr. Tomita from the Department of Disaster Psychiatry (October 8th, 2014)