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ACEing it in Tokyo: Academy of Cancer Experts Building Team Oncology in Japan

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I recently attended an Academy of Cancer Experts (ACE) workshop on "Aligning Leadership for Tomorrow's Team Oncology" in Tokyo, and was impressed by the impact this program is having on a new generation of leaders in the cancer field.

ACE is a leadership training program that emphasizes team building, mentoring and career development, and has been active in Japan for the past four years. It's a partner program to the Japan Team Oncology Program, recently profiled in MD Anderson's Conquest magazine. Co-founded by Naoto Ueno M.D., Ph.D.,professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology (@teamoncology on Twitter), it has brought together upcoming stars among Japan's oncology professionals with a view to encouraging creative, group-focused approaches to the cancer problem. "The idea is to create the next generation of oncology leaders," Ueno says.

Several cohorts have gone through the program, developed and led by Janis Apted, associate vice president for faculty development at MD Anderson, and Larry Neiman, senior consultant at Executive Development Group L.L.C. At this workshop, participants from different years came together for further team building and to brainstorm on the programs future.

It was clear to me that a core leadership group had been crafted by this effort, with many members from our sister institutions -- Keio University and St. Luke's International Hospital of Tokyo, as well as the Japanese National Cancer Center. The group is poised to take an active role in its future, as it works on bringing its key insights to other institutions in Japan and perhaps beyond.


Neiman, who also coaches in MD Anderson's Faculty Leadership Academy, commented that he encountered the same issues in both venues. "Some of the problems are exactly the same," he says. The team building skills that are the focus of ACE "aren't skills that are being taught in medical school or graduate school," according to Apted, who underscored the unique value that this program adds.

Another ACE  co-founder, Hideyuki Saya, M.D., Ph.D., professor of gene regulation at Keio University, described the program as having a broad influence. "The people in ACE will instruct the next generation and then we can have a big wave in this country. That is our dream." 

He went on to outline his vision for a global impact of ACE, an initiative in which MD Anderson's Global Academic Programs will enthusiastically engage.

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