Education and research for longer, healthier lives
While Shizuoka Prefecture is facing local problems such as a rapidly aging population, the departure of younger people, and a decline in local industry, one of its advantages is that its citizens lead the nation in healthy longevity. As the prefecture’s top educational institution, the University of Shizuoka promotes the systemization of “health and longevity science,” a new discipline combining the pharmaceutical sciences and the food and nutritional sciences through programs sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) such as the 21st-Century Center of Excellence (COE) Program and the Global COE Program. The University has also created a center for research on healthy longevity. In 2014, the MEXT Center of Community（COC) program sponsored the University’s program called “A Center of Community for Healthy Longevity -Promoting physical, mental and community health.” The COC program coordinates with local municipalities and helps universities both to engage in community-oriented education and research and to contribute to the community. The University of Shizuoka is the only university in the prefecture selected to participate in the program.
In 2019, the University implemented the Program to Promote Innovations in Healthy Eating. A key element of this program is the Health-Related Data Repository and Living Lab. The project is funded by a subsidy from Shizuoka Prefecture to promote the health food industry. The University established this project to assist with efforts to re-examine the lifestyles of the prefecture’s residents in terms of their health, diet, etc., and residents are actively involved in these efforts. The project collects data on the health of residents and has created a framework to advise residents individually on diet and health. It also recruits participants for validation studies conducted by companies and research institutions, helps to create new industries, and helps the public to lead long and healthy lives.
Research on tea
Thanks to its temperate climate and rich natural surroundings, Shizuoka Prefecture has a long history of thriving agriculture and fisheries industries. Tea cultivation in the prefecture accounts for about 40 percent of all tea produced in Japan. The University of Shizuoka conducts research on tea across its departments, covering topics such as the biological functions of tea, its potential to slow aging and prevent illness, and sales strategies and product development.