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Medical Toxicology

  • Masafumi Tomita, Ph.D., Associate professor

Main Areas and Themes of Research

The primary research interests of the Department concern the area of forensic molecular toxicology, and in particular the mechanisms associated with the toxic effect of methamphetamine (MAP) under stress conditions. Given that most MAP users are under strong stress conditions, it is imperative that the effect of MAP under stress conditions be investigated. We are also interested in the molecular mechanism of paraquat poisoning, which is well known to induce oxidative stress in lung tissues. Other areas of research interest include investigating the association between gene polymorphisms and stress reaction, as well as personal identification by gene polymorphisms such as STR, VNTR and RFLP.

Main themes of research are as follows
  1. Study the effect of MAP on living cells of mice under stress-free and full stress conditions.
  2. Study the molecular mechanism of paraquat toxicity using a poisoned-mouse model.
  3. Study the association between gene polymorphism of the glucocorticoid receptor and stress reactions of mice.

Educational Features

We teach Medical Toxicology and Legal Medicine to fourth-year students. In the Medical Toxicology course, we offer instruction on the diagnosis and medical treatment of patients poisoned by agricultural chemicals, gas, industrial solvents, illegal drugs and so on. Although poisoning as an acute case of admission to the hospital is becoming increasingly common, the diagnosis of a person’s illness as being due to poison can be extremely difficult to make. We believe that it is important to make students aware of the potential possibility of patient illness due to poisoning. In the majority of areas within Japan, the examination of cases involving unexpected death is the duty of general medical doctors. Therefore, a knowledge of medico-legal issues is mandatory for general physicians and medical practitioners. In order to avoid errors caused by misjudgments made when examining the deceased, we provide instruction on medico-legal diagnosis to prepare students who may engage in this field in the future.

In both the Medical Toxicology and Legal Medicine courses, a variety of approaches are employed to instruct students including the use of color slides, print-outs and participation in debates in an effort to engage the students. Although practical instruction in forensic autopsy is not provided by our medical school, students wishing to observe autopsy cases can visit Okayama Medical School during the vacation period.