Since the latter half of the 20th century, environmental changes due to human activities have been accelerating, posing more serious and complex impacts on human health. The mission of the Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (RIEM) at Nagoya University is to “contribute to the well-being of humans through research on the interaction between humans and the environment from the perspective of medicine and life sciences.” RIEM’s goal is to “elucidate the adaptive mechanism of the human body toward rapidly changing social and natural environments around humans, to understand the pathogenesis of various diseases caused by a disrupted adaptive mechanism, and to develop preventions and cures of such diseases.”
From a human-centered perspective, there are three kinds of environments: social, natural, and internal. The first two surround humans, whereas the latter is found inside the human body. Examples of changes in the social environment include aging societies, increased social stress, whereas those in the natural environment include environmental mutagens such as radiation.
The human body is comprised of various levels of building blocks such as organelles, cells, and organs. The coordination of these building blocks maintains homeostasis of the body. Consequently, the human body may be considered an environment, which is hereafter referred to as the internal environment. Abnormalities or disruptions of these environments cause health disorders or diseases.
RIEM aspires to reveal the homeostatic control mechanisms of the internal environment as well as the pathogenesis of psychiatric and neurological disorders, lifestyle-related diseases, and cancers due to abnormalities or disruptions of such control mechanisms. To accomplish these objectives and to develop effective treatments, RIEM promotes research in basic medicine and life sciences in collaboration with other departments to realize drug discoveries and other breakthroughs.