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Biographical entry Hayata, Yoshihiro (1924 - 2012)

MD Tokyo 1944; Hon FRCS 1995.

13 January 1924
Hiroshima, Japan
22 July 2012
General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Yoshihiro Hayata was a pioneer of lung cancer research and professor of surgery at Tokyo Medical University. He was born on 13 January 1924 in Hiroshima, Japan, and studied medicine at Tokyo Medical College, graduating in 1944.

He spent much of his career in the department of surgery at Tokyo Medical College. He began as a surgeon in 1949, became an instructor in 1960, an associate professor in 1963 and professor in 1969. He was subsequently chief of the department and director of the cancer centre.

In 1965, with Kingo Shinoi, Hayata performed the first living lung transplantation in Japan (and only the third in the world). Although during this period more people were affected by tuberculosis, bronchiectasis and lung abscesses in Japan, Hayata chose to focus on lung cancer. He helped establish lung cancer screening by sputum cytology and chest X-ray, and contributed to the development of the fibreoptic and fluorescence bronchoscopes, and bronchoscopic therapies such as YAG (Yttrium aluminium garnet) laser treatment and photodynamic therapy. These resulted in revolutionary progress in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

In 1973 he established in vitro lung cancer cell lines and developed the canine lung cancer model. In the mid-1970s, he completed a study of the carcinogenetic process of lung squamous cell carcinoma with the Karolinska Institute. These findings were applied in many fields of oncology research around the world, including molecular biology and genomics, and aided researchers investigating sensitivity to drugs and the development of drugs.

Hayata contributed to and served as president of many academic societies, including the Japan Society of Surgery (1989), the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery (1978), the Japanese Lung Cancer Society (1980), the Japanese Society of Clinical Cytology (1982, 1989) and the Japan Society for Laser Surgery and Medicine (1987).

He was a founder and president of the International Photodynamic Association (in 1989) and president of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer from 1991 to 1994. He was a member of the USA/Japan Cooperative Cancer Research Program and lectured worldwide. He organised several major conferences, including the 9th World Conference of Lung Cancer (2000).

Hayata loved mountain climbing and was involved in founding clinics in Nepal for the research and treatment of altitude sickness. In 1980s he established a foundation to provide medical education and training in his department for young Nepalese doctors.

He was awarded an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1995. He also received the Japanese Legion of Honour and a decoration from the Kingdom of Nepal.

Yoshihiro Hayata made a significant contribution not only to the education of medical students, but also to the development of medical science, particularly lung cancer. He died on 22 July 2012, aged 88.

Harubumi Kato

Sources used to compile this entry: ['In memoriam: Yoshihiro Hayata (1924-2012)' Gen Thorac Cardiovas Surg (2014) 62:205-6].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England