Biological Sciences

Overview of the Department

Figure 1

The new Department of Biological Sciences was formed in 2014, by the integration of two former departments, the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry and the Department of Biological Sciences. The new Department of Biological Sciences carries on the traditions of both former departments and covers a broad range of fields in biology at the microscopic molecular level common to both former departments to macroscopic biological science focusing on biodiversity. Upon integration, the Division of Advanced Photon Life Sciences was newly established, aiming at creating interdisciplinary research in collaboration with physics, chemistry and other relevant areas. The Division of Basic Biosciences (collaborative division) includes the Molecular Genetics Research Laboratory, the Misaki Marine Biological Station, and the Koishikawa and Nikko Botanical Gardens. We actively promote unique and original researches and undergraduate / graduate educational programs, in coordinated collaboration with attached institutes, other graduate schools and the National Museum of Nature and Science.

Description of Major Research Divisions

Biophysics and Biochemistry

This division aims to examine universal mechanisms of life phenomena at molecule and gene levels, as well as to unravel structural principles governing life systems through experimental and information sciences. The main research themes include: epigenetic control of gene expression by small RNAs; expression, function, and interaction of genes involved in various aspects of ontogeny including development of brain and nerve systems; expression of functions arising from protein structures of membrane transporters, receptors and enzymes; mathematical modeling of logics underlying life systems; and informatics approach to huge biological data. The research and education of this division are marked by its cutting-edge approach to understanding "what is life," based on comprehensive foundation of scientific knowledge of not only biology but also physics, chemistry, and information science.

Advanced Photon Life Sciences

The education and research of this division focus on advanced photon life sciences, including optical measurement and observation. The division pursues development and application of methodologies such as optical imaging for observing nucleic acids, proteins, and other molecules at high spatial and temporal resolutions, optical manipulation, and molecular measurement. The research target also includes a variety of life activities that depend on light. A comprehensive approach to precise measurements by optical imaging, analysis of the huge resulting data, and formulation and verification of mathematical models is realized through active collaboration not only with the two other divisions in the Department of Biological Sciences but also with related fields such as physics and chemistry.


This division engages in research and education on a wide variety of biological phenomena, ranging from molecules to organelles, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and ecosystems. The research methods employed are correspondingly diverse, including molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular evolution, biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, morphology, ecology, systematics, and population genetics. The main research topics include: expression mechanism of the high-order structures and functions that characterize animals; understanding plants at different levels of life layers, that is, genes/proteins, organelles/cells/tissues/organs, and organisms and higher; studies of human lives and behaviors toward uncovering the "nature" of human as a consequence of evolution; and evolutionary biology by approaches at molecule, cell, organism, and population levels.