Harnessing New Technologies to Battle COVID-19 with a Nobel Laureate Dr. Shinya Yamanaka

The Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) and the Consulate General of Japan in New York co-hosted a special webinar featuring Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The event started with special remarks from Hon. Yasutoshi Nishimura, the Minister of State in charge of Japan’s COVID-19 response. Dr. Yamanaka followed with his presentation, in which he shared Japan’s efforts and lessons on its unique approaches to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its use of AI (Artificial Intelligence). He was then interviewed by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Laurie Garrett, who further delved into key points of his presentation.

Dialogue between Dr. Yamanaka and about 30 prominent global health experts from the US followed. The event was live-streamed on YouTube and can be watched below. JMSA President Dr. Yanagisawa drew on his experiences caring for COVID-19 patients to propose that applying AI in ways to assist front-line clinicians. For example, by identifying social and genetic risk factors as well as clinical and lab findings, compiling these, and analyzing these using AI, we could more accurately assess which patients are at risk of developing catastrophic stroke or kidney failure. The data is coming too fast at the moment for those in the field to fully read, digest, and apply, but researchers involved in international collaborations utilizing AI can point to ways to improve care. Dr. Yamanaka added that sharing US data on the multi-organ impact of COVID-19 can be particularly helpful for Japanese researchers, who have seen much fewer cases of this in their work.