Dr. Kazuhiro Yasufuku receives prestigious award from Japanese Prime Minister

Dr. Kazuhiro Yasufuku (right), pictured with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe (to his right) and fellow recipients of Japan’s prestigious Medical Research and Development Grand Prize Award.

In January, Dr. Kazuhiro Yasufuku, Director of the Interventional Thoracic Surgery Program and Deputy Director of the Division of Surgical Oncology within the Sprott Department of Surgery at University Health Network, received Japan’s prestigious Medical Research and Development Grand Prize Award at a special ceremony hosted by Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe at his official residence. The annual award honours outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of healthcare research and development by Japanese nationals.

Dr. Yasufuku, who was recruited to the Division of Thoracic Surgery at UHN from Chiba University in Tokyo in 2008, was selected for his leadership role in the development of the endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) procedure.

EBUS-TBNA is used in the staging of cancer in the lungs and chest and is now the global gold-standard for performing minimally invasive biopsies. It has been used to diagnose and stage over 650,000 lung cancer patients in North America and Europe.

“This is a tremendous honour that recognizes Dr. Yasufuku’s groundbreaking work in developing this incredible technology that is saving lives around the world,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO of UHN. “It is yet another demonstration of UHN’s global impact and how privileged we are to attract the best talent from around the world. Our sincere congratulations to Dr. Yasufuku for this well-deserved recognition.”

The EBUS-TBNA procedure uses a bronchoscope equipped with ultrasound capabilities to “see” beyond the walls of the airways to detect in real time the precise location of lymph nodes. The lymph nodes can then be sampled using an ultra-fine needle. Dr. Yasufuku developed the procedure in collaboration with industry partners. Support from Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation donors has enabled Dr. Yasufuku to build on this success and continue to pioneer minimally invasive and image-guided diagnostics and therapeutics for lung cancer.

“This was a collaborative accomplishment that I share with my colleagues, industry partners and philanthropic supporters, and one that I believe could only be possible here at UHN,” said Dr. Yasufuku. “This team is unparalleled and their dedication to making people’s lives better knows no bounds. It is an honour to share such important, Made-in-Canada innovations with the world.”