University of Tokyo graduate receives prestigious American fellowship

Naoko Akimoto has been named a McDonnell International Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. Akimoto earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Tokyo, which is one of 27 premier universities from around the world partnered with Washington University in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

The McDonnell Academy provides an opportunity for talented international graduate and professional students to join the Washington University community.

“The McDonnell Academy has consistently recruited outstanding law school students from the University of Tokyo, and having Naoko join us continues this fine tradition,” says McDonnell International Scholars Academy Director James V. Wertsch, PhD, associate vice chancellor for international affairs and the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

Akimoto, who is studying for a doctorate in law at the University of Tokyo, is pursuing the LLM degree at Washington University’s School of Law.

After studying law and politics at the University of Tokyo, where she was awarded the Suenobu scholarship, Akimoto became interested in how law works in society.

She was particularly attracted to the question of law and bioethics and wrote a thesis on wrongful birth actions in America and Japan.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, she became a bankruptcy lawyer and continued to observe the interaction between the law and society.

Her goal now is to have a more profound academic knowledge in her field, especially focusing on a comparative study of U.S. and Japanese law.

Akimoto came to Washington University to take advantage of the unique interdisciplinary classes offered at the School of Law, the School of Medicine and the Brown School.

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy is a program designed for future global leaders to obtain PhD or master’s degrees. Employing an unusual approach, it brings together top scholars from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America to pursue world-class education and research while forging a strong network with one another.

Key to this are partnerships Washington University has established with top universities and corporations around the world with an eye to increasing opportunities for joint research and global education.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars are expected to be future global leaders. As such, they are provided not only with a rigorous graduate education, but also with cultural and social activities designed to prepare them as leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries and critical international issues.

Academy Ambassador

Once selected for this highly competitive program, each Academy Scholar is matched with a distinguished member of the Washington University faculty who serves as a mentor and also as an Academy “Ambassador” to the university partner from which the Scholar has graduated.

The Academy Ambassador assists the McDonnell Scholar in academic and professional life and travels annually with the Scholar to the partner university to build relationships between the two institutions.

Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, is Akimoto’s faculty mentor-ambassador.

Shapiro is an internationally renowned research geneticist and pediatrician and became WUSTL’s executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, dean of the School of Medicine and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor on July 1, 2003.

He is the former W.H. and Marie Wattis Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, and had been the chief of pediatric services at UCSF Children’s Hospital since his arrival there in 1991.

Throughout the span of his medical career, Shapiro has been internationally recognized for his research in human genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. His contributions to academic medicine include patient care, research, teaching and administration.

Shapiro serves on the Council of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Shapiro is a member of many professional societies and organizations and has served as the president of the American Society of Human Genetics, the American Board of Medical Genetics, the Society for Inherited Metabolic Diseases, the Western Society for Pediatric Research, the Society for Pediatric Research and of the American Pediatric Society.

He is chairman of the Advisory Panel for Research and serves on the Executive Committee of the Council of Deans for the Association of American Medical Colleges. He has served on the board and is chair-elect of the Association of Academic Health Centers.

Shapiro earned both undergraduate and medical degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. He distinguished himself academically and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha national honor societies.

In 1996, he received Washington University’s prestigious Alumni Achievement Award. While at UCSF, Shapiro directed and expanded one of the leading academic pediatric departments in the country and helped to establish the UCSF Children’s Hospital.

The McDonnell Academy

The McDonnell Academy Scholars receive funding for full tuition and living expenses for the time it takes to get a degree at Washington University. The Academy also provides support for an annual trip back to the Scholar’s alma mater. Many of the Scholars reside in two fully equipped and furnished apartment buildings near campus.

Funding is provided through a sustaining endowment gift from John F. McDonnell, vice chair of WUSTL’s Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Additional support comes from 22 multinational corporations, foundations and individual sponsors. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for the Academy’s Corporate Fellows.