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The Sachiko Kuno and Ryuji Ueno Innovation Professorship

School of Medicine

Established in 2014

Kuno-UenoSACHIKO KUNO, PhD obtained her PhD in biochemical engineering from Kyoto University, Japan and conducted post-doctoral research at the Technical University of Munich, Germany at a time when there were few women pursuing careers in science. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Kuno and Dr. RYUJI UENO established R-Tech Ueno Ltd. in Japan to commercialize prostones, a class of functional fatty acids whose therapeutic potential was first identified by Dr. Ueno. In leading teams of talented scientists, Drs. Ueno and Kuno unlocked the therapeutic potential of prostones, resulting in more than 650 international patents and the successful launch of Rescula® eye drops, the first bioactive lipid ever used to treat glaucoma in Japan.

Leveraging R-Tech’s success in Japan, Dr. Kuno and Dr. Ueno moved to Bethesda, MD and established the Sucampo Group, an affiliation of companies in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Dr. Kuno served Sucampo Group as a founding CEO, Chair of the Board, or an advisor until 2012. Sucampo received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the doctors’ second prostone product, AMITIZA® (lubiprostone), for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation in adults, irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and opioid-induced constipation in adults with chronic non-cancer pain in 2006, 2008 and 2013 respectively. Regulatory approval has also been received in Switzerland, United Kingdom and Japan. Currently, Sucampo and R-Tech Ueno are listed and traded on NASDAQ and Tokyo’s JASDAQ. In 2012, Dr. Kuno, Dr. Ueno, and Dr. Wataru Akahata co-founded VLP Therapeutics.

Dr. Kuno is also a founder and Managing Member of S&R Technology Holdings, LLC, a Bethesda, MD-based holding company founded in 1999. Additionally, in 2000, Dr. Kuno with Dr. Ueno, established the S&R Foundation in Washington, DC for the purposes of supporting talented individuals with high aspirations and great potential in the arts, science, and social entrepreneurship, especially those who are furthering international cultural collaboration.

She has received a number of awards over the years, some of which include the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Greater Washington Area in the Life Sciences Category (2007) and recognition as one of the 25 “Women Who Mean Business” by The Washington Business Journal (2009).

Dr. Kuno currently serves as a visiting Professor of the Graduate School of Keio University, a board member of the National Cherry Blossom Foundation, and an advisory board member of THIS for Diplomats at the Meridian International Center. She has also completed certificate coursework in international business management at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.


RYUJI UENO, MD, PhD, is an internationally recognized researcher in pharmacology, physiology and the biochemistry of endogenic functional fatty acids and their related compounds. Dr. Ueno is a co-founder of the Sucampo Group, an international affiliation of pharmaceutical research, development and manufacturing companies. Dr. Ueno was trained and certified as a medical doctor at Keio University School of Medicine in Japan. He spent his academic career in the fields of pharmacology, physiology and

biochemistry at Columbia University (USA), Kyoto University (Japan), Osaka University (Japan) and Stanford University (USA). As a leading expert in his field, Dr. Ueno has authored more than 100 articles in notable scientific journals.

In the 1980s, Dr. Ueno started pharmaceutical development based on his research with prostones, a class of functional fatty acids whose tremendous therapeutic potential Dr. Ueno first identified. This class of lipids is the subject of over 650 patents worldwide, which are now exclusively held by the Sucampo Group. After 10 years of biomedical research, Dr. Ueno, together with Dr. Sachiko Kuno, established R-Tech Ueno, Ltd. in Japan, the first Sucampo Group company to engage in the research and development of new chemical substances discovered by Dr. Ueno. The first product, Rescula®‚ an anti-glaucoma treatment, was commercialized in Japan in 1994. Rescula® Eye Drops have been sold in more than 45 countries and have treated more than 500,000 patients since its launch. R-Tech Ueno completed its IPO in 2008 and is listed on the Osaka Stock Exchange.

Leveraging the success in Japan, Dr. Ueno, in partnership with Dr. Kuno, established Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to bring his discoveries to the American market. Sucampo, which was founded in 1996 as R-Tech Ueno (USA), Inc., received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for AMITIZA® (lubiprostone), the second prostone product discovered by Dr. Ueno and developed by the doctors’ talented R&D team, for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation in adults in 2006 and for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation in 2008. Since 2006, Sucampo became a global, emerging pharmaceutical company by establishing its own commercial sales and marketing capacity, filed for an initial public offering, and acquired overseas affiliates in the UK, Japan, and Switzerland with an aim to expand operations and address commercial opportunities of prostone products worldwide. Sucampo is listed and traded on NASDAQ. In March, 2014, Dr. Ueno stepped down as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

In 2012, Dr. Ueno co-founded VLP Therapeutics with Dr. Kuno and Dr. Wataru Akahata, which focuses on using proprietary i-aVLP Technology to introduce the first and best-in-class novel, proprietary targeted antibody and vaccine therapies. Dr. Ueno was named Chair and Chief Medical Officer of the company in March, 2014.

Dr. Ueno is also a founder and Managing Member of S&R Technology Holdings, LLC in Bethesda, MD and a founder and Honorary Chair and President of Evermay Chamber for S&R Foundation in Washington, DC.

The awards and recognitions received by Dr. Ueno over the years include Nikkei BP Publications’ Japan Innovator of the Year Award (2006), the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Greater Washington Area in the Life Sciences Category (2006), and honorary membership in the American Gastroenterological Association (2008). Aside from his scientific achievements, Dr. Ueno is an experienced Class A race car driver. Currently, he is a member of Leica Historical Society of America, Ferrari Club of America, and Miles River Yacht Club.

Held by Akira Sawa

Sawa.AkiraAKIRA SAWA, MD, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center. He also has joint appointments in the Department of Mental Health in the School of Public Health as well as in the Department of Neuroscience, the Institute of Human Genetics, and the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

After completing his residency in psychiatry and clinical fellowship at the University of Tokyo Hospital in Japan, Dr. Sawa joined Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Solomon Snyder in 1996. He joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 2001.

Building on his background in both clinical psychiatry and basic neuroscience, Dr. Sawa was appointed Director of the Schizophrenia Center in 2011. The aim of the Center is to integrate clinical, research, and educational activities on schizophrenia and psychotic disorders by developing multi-school and multi-departmental collaborations. Dr. Sawa leads cross-disciplinary projects that include psychiatrists, psychologists, epidemiologists, geneticists, brain imaging specialists, neuroscientists, and drug discovery experts who are working together to understand the biological underpinnings of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. They strive to find new interventions, improved treatment therapeutics and, ultimately, prevention. One of these projects is currently funded by a prestigious Silvio A. Conte Center grant from the National Institute of Health for which Dr. Sawa serves as the Principal Investigator and Director.

Dr. Sawa has been recognized internationally throughout his career as an outstanding researcher and leader in the field of brain sciences. Awards include the Ueno Award for outstanding promise in science in 2002. A discovery related to schizophrenia by his research team was named among the top five greatest discoveries in 2005 by Science magazine and among the top innovations of 2007 in medicine by Time magazine. Dr. Sawa was also named the Staglin Music Festival “Rising Star” in 2007. That same year the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) presented the Efron Award to Dr. Sawa for his outstanding basic/translational research contributions to neuropsychopharmacology. In 2008, he earned an honorable mention for The Freedman Award which is presented to NARSAD Young Investigators (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) who have distinguished themselves through outstanding basic science research. In 2010, Dr. Sawa received the Tsukahara Memorial Award from Riken, a large research institution in Japan for original and innovative basic research – the first time it was received by a psychiatrist. The Brain and Behavior Foundation (formerly NARSAD) presented Dr. Sawa with the Distinguished Investigator Award in 2011. This year he was honored by the Schizophrenia International Research Society for Outstanding Basic Research.