Biological Chemistry and Engineering Course

The Biological Chemistry and Engineering Course focuses on education and research involving the chemical elucidation and application of basic principles in life phenomena. Life systems represent the ultimate aggregate of chemical reactions, and can be referred to as emergence based on hierarchy and the ability to self-assemble. They serve as the foundation for dynamic biological activities in which materials, energy and information are generated, converted and metabolized. Various cross sections of life phenomena are described by workings in harmony with the minute principles of constructing the biomolecular groups that always support biological systems and by the networks controlling them. The Biological Chemistry and Engineering Course looks at biological chemistry as a set of basic principles common to its four research groups (Biomolecular Chemistry, Biofunctional Chemistry, Cell Biotechnology and Molecular Medicinal Chemistry). Recently, chemical biology has taken on a global scale as an academic discipline compatible with chemistry. Like biochemistry, chemical biology is recognized as an extremely important area in understanding the chemical aspects of life systems and in creating new research fields. In response to this modern trend, the course offers educational and research programs that take advantage of the graduate school’s characteristic of collaboration between science and engineering faculty members. In short, it aims to educate and train students to become front-runners in the field with a well developed sense of judgment who can investigate a wide range of life phenomena on various levels, from the molecular to the individual, using various chemical analysis methods and applying the results to many and diverse fields.

As a new field of education, the course includes the four research groups outlined below, offering curricula that allow synergetic crosstalk between the groups or beyond the course itself. Students will become capable of conducting scientific analysis of life phenomena if, for example, they are asked what a cell is, and will be able to elucidate the underlying basic principles. They will also develop the skills to take up the challenges of applying the relevant principles and creating cells on their own while considering bioethics. The course’s mission is to turn out such individuals, and systematic educational programs are provided in accordance with this goal.

Biomolecular Chemistry Unit

The objective of this research group is to provide enlightenment on biomolecules, which manifest diverse life phenomena, as well as their complexes, their functional assembly structures and their functional control mechanisms in line with the molecular theory of biomolecules. It also aims to facilitate understanding of the basic principles governing life’s emergence by having students engage in diverse and minute analysis of target life phenomena and life systems according to the hierarchy of atoms, molecules, cells, tissues and individuals. Its educational characteristics include a bottom-up approach to describing hierarchical biological systems based on detailed chemical analysis of related biomolecules. In addition, the group also aims to train students who can ensure unified control for the dynamism of biomolecular self-assembly and dissociation occurring inside life systems, and who can elucidate integrated life phenomena through methods including analysis with an approach based on systems biology.

Biofunctional Chemistry Unit

The objective of this research group is to develop new useful molecules or systems that are friendly both to the environment and to living bodies through artificial control of enzymatic or synthetic functions. In this regard, students will gain a thorough understanding of the precise mechanisms behind the construction of biologically active complex and of the precise correlation between structure and function of synthetic molecules and polymers. They will also learn about interactions between molecules involved in various natural phenomena. In particular, the group actively promotes development of the skills needed to discern, from a broad point of view, that life systems are supported by the dynamic equilibrium (homeostasis) of networks controlled by molecular interactions. Students will fully understand that biological and artificial functions (i.e., material, energy and information conversion) cannot explain simply from a combination of the molecular components, and will be encouraged to understand dynamic mechanisms from a broad perspective by taking time and space coordinates into consideration.

Cell Engineering Unit

Cells are the minimum unit of life. Based on the essential concept that cells are integrated due to a series of chemical reactions, students in this research group learn the principles behind the construction and control of biological systems and biological processes, including related engineering aspects, by understanding ways in which genetic information manifests itself and through elucidation of the operational mechanisms behind biocatalysts such as protein enzymes and nucleic acid catalysts. The group views cell functions as having the potential to serve the same purpose as drugs with an eye toward application in regenerative medicine and medical engineering. Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the field through subjects in which lectures are given based on collaboration between science and engineering faculty members, thereby enabling them to make social contributions in the medical field. The group also develops students to become cell biotechnologists who have a correct understanding of bioethics and can contribute to society.

Molecular Medical Biochemistry Unit

The aim of this research group is to elucidate pathogenic and pathogenesis mechanisms activated by failure in systems that control the principles of life. To do this, it aims to provide an understanding of life by outlining its principles at the molecular level based on biochemical considerations, and then through the reconstruction of life at the cellular and individual levels. Biological system failure is caused not only by genetic anomalies but also by abnormal epigenetic control. The group seeks to foster competent individuals by encouraging analysis (based on a cross-sectional approach involving both chemistry and medicine) of associations between diseases and functional or structural abnormalities in the molecules that make up biological systems. Particular focus is directed toward educational and research programs designed to help students interested in life medicine to draw on their existing basic chemistry techniques and to groom them for application to new fields of study.