Food and the environment support human life, but Japan's food self-sufficiency, based on the amount of calories consumed, was only 39% in 2010. The Japanese Government strived to raise food self-sufficiency in the rural setting to 50% by 2020, but so far the situation has only worsened, as compared with 2008. Aging and depopulation in the countryside and the devastation of rural communities are also in progress. Shimane University intends to develop knowledge centers in communities. We started community-based education and research programs in the fields of agriculture, industry, education and medicine. The Shimane Cohort Study, undertaken in collaboration with rural communities, revealed that the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases increased in proportion to aging and lifestyle urbanization. Ruralists took in less lipid and protein but do more exercise than urbanites. We began to develop a new community- and ICT-based program in 2010 with the central and local governments to solve problems posed to rural communities. We have new empirical evidence that social capital is a determinant of psychological stress and support community development by enhancing social capital.
In the mid-1990s in Sweden, the care of large groups of patients, including many with chronic disorders, was transferred from hospitals to primary health care. This change made it necessary to increase clinically relevant research in primary health care. To meet this need, Lund University and Region Skane (the county council in Skane, the southernmost county in Sweden) jointly founded in 2008 a clinical research unit dedicated to primary health care: the Center for Primary Health Care Research (CPF). The overall goal of the CPF is to conduct ground-breaking clinical research in order to increase the quality of primary health care and thereby improve public health. The clinical research is performed in close collaboration with primary care clinicians to exploit their ideas, experiences, and expertise. In order to build bridges between academia and primary care, the CPF established a network of nine Academic Knowledge Centers (AKCs) in Skane. At each AKC, an active clinical researcher (AKC coordinator) employed by the CPF provides on-the-job assistance with tasks including study design, implementation and applying for research funding. Each AKC supports a fixed network of primary health care centers and the nine AKCs together support all 150 primary health care centers in Skane. The AKC network has the potential to establish Sweden at the international forefront of clinical research in primary care. Its ethos and infrastructure could serve as a template for research collaboration between academia and clinicians in primary care around the world.