Research

We study the chemistry and the physics of biomolecules and living cells in micro/nano fluidic environments, and explore practical ways to analyze and synthesize them in a more effective, efficient manner by making full use of MEMS/NEMS (Micro/Nano Electro Mechanical Systems) technology.

Our objective is to accelerate the researches in synthetic/systems biology. Our interests extend from single molecule dynamics of biopolymers to developmental process of multicellular organisms; we work in close cooperation with other research groups in QBiC of a variety of fields, which include synthetic organic chemistry, gene/protein engineering, functional genomics, developmental engineering, electric engineering, experimental/computational biophysics, and systems biology.

We have four major research themes in our group:


1

High-throughput biological experiments

We are developing devices for highly-parallelized in vitro experiments, in which genetic/chemical perturbation, analysis, and recovery of cultured cells are automatically processed by microfluidic manipulation and electric/optic tracing at a single-cell resolution.

2

High-throughput biomolecule synthesis

We are developing devices for highly-parallelized synthesis and purification of biopolymers based on surface chemistry and micro/nano fluidic manipulation of aqueous/organic solvents containing “building blocks” of biopolymers (e.g. nucleotides, amino acids) or polymerizing factors (e.g. reactive reagents, enzymes), taking the cost and speed of the reactions into account.

3

Creation of “artificial cells” in micro/nano spaces

We investigate the sufficient conditions and underlying mechanisms for several characteristic molecular dynamics observed in living cells (e.g. circadian oscillation, axon outgrowth) by reconstructing “artificial” molecular networks in real micro/nano spaces with defined molecular composition and concentration.

4

Biologically-functionalized MEMS/NEMS devices

We also pursue the development of novel MEMS/NEMS-based sensors and actuators which directly utilize the functions of biomolecules or living cells (Lab on a Chip 6, 362-368, 2006) (Lab on a Chip, 8, 58-61, 2008).