Researcher List

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Bioelectronics Lab: Biomedical and Electronic Engineering

Cellulose Liquid Crystal
Cellulose Liquid Crystal

Bioelectronics is an interdisciplinary research field at the interface of the life sciences, physics, chemistry, and engineering. Our researchers have multi-disciplinary backgrounds, with experience in a wide range of fields, from electrical and electronic engineering, physics and mathematics, to chemistry, biology and medicine. In our department of Biomedical Engineering, you can study all of these fields, so it is an ideal department in which to study bioelectronics.

One of our current research topics is the induced contraction of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle, using electric fields. We are working on applications where tissue-engineered muscles can be used as actuators, and are also developing special forms of cellulose, derived from plant cell walls, for use as ecological liquid crystal display devices.

Biomaterials Lab: Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

Tissue-engineered skeletal muscle
Tissue-engineered skeletal muscle

The use of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle is a promising strategy for the reconstruction of skeletal muscle loss caused by tumor ablations or accidental injury. This novel material may also be applicable for actuators to drive machinery such as prostheses and micro-machines. However, construction of mature muscle tissue in vitro is still a major challenge. We are developing tissue-engineered skeletal muscle from cultured myoblasts seeded in a 3D scaffold. In the course of our research, we evaluate the effect that electrical pulse stimulation has on the isometric contractile force of tissue-engineered muscle, as well as its histological and biochemical properties. We are also developing a scaffold made of acellular biological tissue, for the regeneration of vascular, cardiac, and adipose tissues.
We have invented a new technology for decellularization, using ultrahigh pressure and rinsing under microwave irradiation, which is registered world-wide.

Biophysics Lab: Development of biomimetic electric devies

Micro-electric motor driven by a DSC
Micro-electric motor driven by a DSC

Development of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) attempts to mimic the primary process of green plant photosynthesis. Gratzel-type DSCs are attractive for renewable energy generation because they are less expensive to make than silicon-based solar cells. However, one of the obstacles to practical application of DSCs is that their photoelectrochemical cells use a corrosive iodine electrolyte solution. Solidification of the electrolyte, which may offer a solution to this problem, has been attempted by using biomaterials with that are environmentally benign.

Functional Foods Lab: Development of Novel Functional Foods

Japanese Apricot : Ume
Japanese Apricot : Ume

Many functional foods have lifesaving properties. Food provides vital nutritional support for our bodies, and functional foods that support homeostasis, helping metabolism and bodily functions achieve balance, are one of several areas experiencing rapid growth. One consequence of changes in eating habits is increased risk of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Thus, there is an increasing demand for functional foods. The goal of our laboratory is to explore novel functional foods, and contribute to the maintenance and development of better health for people everywhere.

Molecular and functional biology Lab: Molecular approach of pain transmission

Expression of yellow fluorescence protein-tagged molecule in neuronal cells
Expression of yellow fluorescence protein-tagged molecule in neuronal cells

Many biological phenomena such as genes and proteins are being clarified at the molecular level. This increase in knowledge is being used in various fields, extending even to engineering and agriculture, as well as medicine. We are investigating the perception of "pain" on a molecular level by using methods derived from biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology, to better understand the molecular basis of neurological functions. Pain often outlasts its usefulness as a warning, and becomes chronic after tissue damage and nerve injury. Chronic pain causes dynamic changes such as gene expression, cellular responses, and plasticity observed in neural circuits. We have isolated several molecules that block the nociception action (the physiological system causing the sensation of pain), using high-performance affinity nano-beads, and are studying the action of these molecules in gene-deficient mice. We are also developing a monitoring system for dynamic biological processing in living cells.

Bioprocess Engineering Lab: Bio-production system

Bioreactors for biomanufacturing processes
Bioreactors for biomanufacturing processes

Our laboratory research focuses on biomanufacturing processes that take advantage of bioreactions and biofunctions, from the production of useful substances using microorganisms to the creation of tissues that contribute to regenerative medicine. Bioprocess engineers, one of the resources required for research, development and manufacturing in the fermentative food, chemical, pharmaceutical and regenerative medicine industries, must understand bioreaction characteristics and conduct engineering design, construction, and optimization of production processes from the kinetics and materials balance viewpoint. For this, analyzing and quantifying complex biological reactions of individual cells/tissues/living organisms are necessary. Additionally, understanding and identifying the main parameters that govern the phenomena of interest, and controlling these parameters to readily manipulate the phenomena, are required. Our research focus is on all the tools and technologies essential for these activities.

Nanomedicine Lab: Merger of technology and medicine

Prosthetic venous valves
Prosthetic venous valves

Advanced technology can contribute to solving difficult problems in the field of medicine. One topic of our research is the fabrication of prosthetic venous valves, using electrospinning, for percutaneous treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Nanofiber scaffolds produced by electrospinning are useful for fabricating fibrous biomaterials because the size of their fibers is similar to that of the fibers that make up the extracellular matrix of native tissues and organs. Thus, electrospinning has great potential in the field of tissue engineering. Some other topics we study include protein transduction into cells, to control cell behavior and differentiation, and the synthesis of polyphenols by enzymatic polymerization. These polyphenols are transducted into cells in a manner similar to that of proteins, which facilitates their use in novel methods for controlling cell behavior and differentiation. We hope to contribute to human health by merging advanced technology and medicine, as described above.

Physiology Lab: Environmental physiology

Gene induction in rat brain during fever
Gene induction in rat brain during fever

Our physiology lab investigates how animals respond to environmental stresses and manage to keep their internal environment fairly constant. Living creatures experience heat stress in summer, cold stress in winter, and microbial infection is also a kind of environmental stress. In response to these stresses, animals exhibit various anti-stress responses that are controlled by the brain, although the precise mechanisms remain unclear. Recent advances in bioscience have provided valuable information and tools to investigate these phenomena. For example, molecules that are essential to thermal sensation are identified as belonging to TRP ion channel families. Our Physiology Lab mainly focuses on the following two issues.
1. Neuronal mechanisms of temperature regulation
2. Brain-immune interaction and fever
We hope to contribute to fundamental knowledge in biology and medicine.

Food Microbiology Lab

Separation of D- and L-amino acids by ultra-performance liquid chromatography
Separation of D- and L-amino acids by ultra-performance liquid chromatography

Extended image

The microorganisms and their enzymes have been played pivotal roles and an infinite of possibility in biotechnology and the related fields. Today, they are applied to the various fields including the manufacturing of foods and medicines, the development of medical equipment and the environmental cleaning. Our laboratory is focusing to characterization and functional analyses as to the microbes and enzymes related to the fermented foods and extreme environments such as high temperature, acidic, and alkaline conditions. In particular, we have been studying D-amino acid metabolism and function of lactic acid bacteria and other food microorganisms, and the molecular characterization of the related enzymes and their application to bioreactors and biosensors. We are also carrying out the analyses and synthesis of specific food components such as amino acids, amines, and the related analogs, the functional analyses of D-amino acids bound in food proteins and the finding and application of thermophilic bacteriophages and their enzymes.