Popularly known as Seika, from the Japanese term for biological sciences, and as its English name suggests, the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry adopts an interdisciplinary approach that uses both physics and chemistry as tools to understand living organisms.
Basic Research and Thorough Understanding
Several departments at the University of Tokyo deal with biological phenomena, but the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry is different from the others in two ways. The first is that we are specialized in basic science to elucidate the fundamental principles of biological phenomena and conduct world-leading advanced research. We believe that true breakthroughs can only come from basic studies. The other is that we do not simply seek to describe the various interesting phenomena exhibited by living organisms, but we try to thoroughly understand the mechanisms behind them at the molecular level. Here, the key word molecule refers to large biological compounds such as DNA (genes), RNA, and proteins, the smallest units that make up living organisms. In living organisms, these molecules mutually interact in accordance with the principles of physics and chemistry to give rise to a variety of biological phenomena ranging from simple biochemical reaction to complex activities of living organisms.
The Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry explores a wide range of biological phenomena, from the shape and behavior of a single molecule and cell dynamics to biological rhythms, animal behavior, and brain function. The interdisciplinary approach works in the same way as we assemble building blocks; combining theories in mathematics, information science, physics and chemistry with experiments in biochemistry and molecular biology to understand the relationships between molecules and elucidate biological phenomena.