International Research Center for Medical Education (IRCME), the University of Tokyo has conducted research on international cooperation in the field of medical education. In addition, aiming to fulfill the primary function of the medical education international cooperation research network centered on universities, on 1st April 2000, it was established as a joint education and research facility within the University of Tokyo.

The Center was divided into two departments: Medical Education International Cooperation Research Department and Medical Education International Cooperation Project Planning, Coordination and Information Department. The Medical Education International Collaborative Research Department aimed to research a wide range of medical education and medical personnel education, held workshops and periodical seminars on medical education, etc., and delivered results and accumulated information on practical research activities. It was a department that aimed to contribute to the development of medical education.

The Medical Education International Cooperation Project Planning, Coordination and Information Department promoted international cooperation activities in medical education (medical, dental, medicine, nursing, public health, rehabilitation undergraduate education, and continuing education). We have mainly carried out the work related to the technical cooperation projects run by JICA.

The big words “medical education” and “international cooperation” were in the center’s name. This is similar to the International Center for Research and in Education Development at Hiroshima University and Tsukuba University, the International Research Centers for Legal Education Cooperation and for Agricultural Education Cooperation in Nagoya University, and the Center for International Research Center for Engineering Education Cooperation at Toyohashi University, all established to promote area-specific International Research Center for Educational Cooperation. This means that IRCME at the University of Tokyo Medical was expected to develop international cooperation in health professional education in Japan. However, with the intensifying competition among universities due to the Toyama Plan in 2001 and the establishment of a National University Independent Corporation in 2004, it has become challenging to carry out international cooperation projects with other universities.

Also, inviting foreign visiting teachers for several months a year was previously a major activity of the center activity. Overseas experts with knowledge in the medical education field have been invited to give intellectual stimulation to medical teachers, instructors, and on-campus students and trainees, and to widely disseminate the latest knowledge on medical education to the outside. Initially, IRCME invited teachers from North America, but with the expansion of the scope, it also invited teachers from developing countries to tie up with international cooperation projects.

The Department of Medical Education International Cooperation Project Planning, Coordination and Information was the most successful in JICA Afghanistan Medical Education Project from July 2005, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation from September 2007 Loan Promotion and Formation Project in Indonesia University. The biggest project was conducted at Setthathirath Hospital in Lao PDR to promote medical education and research functions from December 2007. In that process, IRCME has achieved leadership in medical education domestically and internationally.

Since April 2013, IRCME has been merged with and converted to an affiliated center of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences. It comprised two departments: the Department of Medical Education and the Department of International Cooperation for Medical Education (ICME).

After the conversion, each department is affiliated with the Graduate School of Medicine to be able to serve for a graduate course. The Department of ICME obtained a status of collaborative course under the School of International Health (SIH). Since then, ICME has accepted graduate students for master and PhD programs.