Department of Social Medicine

Legal Medicine

The study of causes of death for new health and medical care
  • A new medical field that investigates the mechanisms causing death and their prevention
  • Mechanisms and prevention of sudden death
  • Mechanisms that lead to death from heatstroke and freezing
  • Study of how alcohol, drugs and other toxins affect organ failure that cause death
  • Medical law and medical econometrics to study death and its causes
Professor MATSUMOTO Hiroshi
Legal Medicine
The roots of the laboratory can be traced back to 1919. Prof. Matsumoto took over in 2013 with the mission of studying mechanisms of death that cannot be traced clinically. In other words, societal factors that contribute to death.

Death-oriented research ~Better life through the prevention of death~

Medical econometrics and medical law to study death

Upon the death of a patient, the medical field zeros in on factors that contributed to that specific individual’s death. Medical econometrics and medical law consider other factors such as past abuse and medical care in the cause. Environmental factors such as heat stroke, freezing, overwork, or drug abuse can all contribute to potential organ failure and deserve preventative treatment. Japan has remarkably sophisticated medical standards and medical resources, including excellent emergency services. However, the Japanese Circulation Society claims 70,000 to 100,000 people die within 1 hour of a pathological onset, which according to the Osaka Medical Examiner accounts for 6% of deaths. We are examining the factors and mechanisms that cause these sudden deaths for future prevention. Similarly, we are investigating deaths related to the environment. Our aim is to introduce new measures that can reduce these deaths. The frequency of suicides and homicides could also benefit from this type of research. Because stroke is a leading cause of sudden death, we are also looking at proteins involved in cerebral infarction and drug development.

Figure 1

Investigation of the causes of death

To strengthen our understanding of death’s causes, we have been using government policies and working with the Osaka University Graduate Schools of Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences to train researchers. In 2015, we set up a course as part of the Master of Public Health (MPH), with three more courses in planning. This addition is in response to the increased number of sudden deaths expected in aging societies.