Yasuji Watanabe is the Managing Director of Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell and Gene Therapies, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).
He started working as a government official at the Science and Technology Agency (STA) of the Prime Minister’s Office in 1986, his first job was in the Life Science Planning Division, where he was involved in the formulation of the S&T Committee’s Basic Life Science Plan (brain/neuro S&T, allergy/immunology S&T, bioethics, etc.). After that, he was engaged in planning and promotion of science and technology policies such as Life Science policy and implementation (Millennium projects, enactment of the Act on Regulation of Human Cloning Techniques, establishment of the Office for Bioethics and Biosafety in STA, etc.), nuclear power, space and ocean development, etc. Furthermore, he was seconded to the Secretariat of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), where he was engaged in formulating the Recommendation regarding Japanese Master Plan for of Large-scale Research Projects for academia, etc.
He was also seconded twice to RIKEN, one of the largest basic research institutes in Japan, where he was involved in the establishment of the Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) and the Bioresource Center (BRC), and was the Director of the Brain Science Promotion Office for the Center for Brain Science (CBS), etc. And while he has worked in RIKEN, he served as the S&T policy advisor (as a JICA expert) to the President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) of Thailand. And he was also seconded to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) to engage in the formulation and promotion of strategies for heavy ion beam cancer therapy, imaging technologies with PET-MRI, and radiological medicine. He has also worked at the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), which is the largest S&T funding agency in Japan, as the Director of Beijing Office, a fellow at the Center for Research and Development Strategies (CRDS), and the Director of planning office at Research Center for Social Science and Technology (RISTEX).
In addition, he was appointed as a professor at the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), the University of Tokyo, and made recommendations to the three ministries and agencies regarding nationwide translational research (TR) policy making, and it led to the establishment of the Government Projects and established TR center at the University of Tokyo. And as a professor at Kyoto Institute of Technology, he was involved in the management of the KYOTO Design Lab and the Drosophila Bioresource Center, and in the development of the infrastructure for materials science (rubber, organic materials, etc.) and information science.
Currently, at AMED, as the Managing Director at Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell and Gene therapies, he is trying to promote seamless support from basic research to clinical research / clinical trials, and development of manufacturing / industrialization infrastructure.