Keisuke Ito was born in Gofuku-cho, Nagoya City in 1803 (Kyowa 3), a son of Gendo Nishiyama, who was a doctor. From an early age, Ito learned Confucianism and medicine from his father. He also liked to study botany. In 1820 (Bunsei 3), at the age of 18, he became a medical practitioner. At the age of 19, he went to Kyoto to study European sciences, and in 1827 (Bunsei 10) when he was 25 years old, he went to Nagasaki to study botany under Siebold. This became the turning point in his academic career.
At the age of 27, he issued his first publication, a translation entitled Taisei Bonzou Meiso. Subsequently, he published seventeen books, among them the well-known Nippon Sanbutsushi and Nippon Shokubutsu Zusetsu Soubu.
In 1852 when he was 50 years old, he was ordered by the lord of the Owari clan to examine methods of vaccination against smallpox. He established a method of vaccination for use in Japan, This became his greatest achievement as a doctor. He contributed to medical treatment in Owari and promoted the natural sciences in the same area.
In 1868 (Meiji 1), with the abolition of clans and establishment of prefectures, Ito emphasized the importance of Western medicine and, with his supporters, urged Aichi Prefecture to establish a medical school. This suggestion was accepted, and the first medical school was established in the former supreme court building of the Nagoya clan. This is the origin of Nagoya University.
He was appointed Professor at the University of Tokyo in 1881(Meiji 14), from where he obtained his Doctorate in Science in 1888 (Meiji 21). He was the first director of the University Graduates' Society.
In 1901 (Meiji 34), he became Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, and was granted the title of baron. In the same year he passed away at the age of 98.
This is an abstract of the explanation given in the Ito Bunko catalog in the library attached to Nagoya University.
Nagoya University Library