Functional Chemistry

functionalchemistry1In the “Master of Functional Chemistry” course, education and research achieve: measurement and analysis of the structures and functions of various organism-related substances pertaining to life activities, the control of the functionality of substances based on the resulting information, and the creation and application of functional substances and development of pioneering analytical measurement methods. In this master’ s course, students conduct detailed analysis of the functionality and action mechanisms of organism-related substances from a chemical viewpoint; matters such as molecular structures, electronic states, and intermolecular interactions, which control the functionality of substances, are interpreted from multifaceted viewpoints. Starting in the 1970s, the research domain where the greatest success was achieved in the analysis, control, and application of substance functions was the academic field of life sciences, including molecular biology. Development in this domain was achieved, for example, through the creation of analytical and diagnostic reagents that enabled visualization of life phenomena and through the development of ultrahigh-sensitivity measuring instruments. These technologies are based on a significant accumulation of 20th century research outcomes in the domain of substance chemistry.
Nowadays, education and research in the domain of functional substance chemistry are counted on to achieve the following: creation of high-functionality substances leading to solutions to energy, medical care, food, and environmental problems which humankind is confronted with; and establishment of state-of-the-art measurement technologies. In this master’ s course, education and research which place importance on analysis, control, and application of substance functions closely concerned with the life sciences are promoted. For example, in the case of analysis of a functional substance, the mechanism where the substance demonstrates functions is analyzed in detail at the molecular level, and then the causal relationship between the substance functions and the molecular structure is interpreted. Next, as regards the control of the substance functions, the following is carried out: The structures of single bodies or complex bodies involving substance functions are controlled, and diverse complex bodies having new functionality are created. Furthermore, as for the application of functional substances, the following actions are taken: Various new substances and their complex bodies are subjected to research; the resulting biological activity is evaluated by making full use of experimental animals and cell systems; applied research leading to the development of new diagnostic elements and diagnostic technologies, both of which use these substances, are promoted.

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Laboratory Information

Molecular Structural Chemistry laboratory Biophysical Chemistry laboratory
We have a strong focus on using physicochemical methods to interpret biological chemical reactions from a structural chemistry perspective. Our research themes are: kinetic analysis of oxidation-reduction behavior and antioxidant reactions of biological molecules (peptides, nucleic acid-derived radicals, reactive oxygen radicals, vitamins, anticancer agents), and precise structural determination and functional analysis of biological molecules (nucleic acid, proteins, peptides, naturally biologically active substances). The research methodology consists of chemically synthesizing or extracting biological molecules from natural organisms, and then measuring them using magnetic resonance (ESR, NMR) and other spectroscopic or electrochemical measurement techniques to clarify the correlation between structure and function. We then use a combination of molecular force field, orbit and dynamics calculations to theoretically investigate the structure-activity correlation. Our primary focus is on optics and living organisms. Our research emphasizes bioluminescence molecular mechanisms, the molecular function of luminescent enzymes and fluorescent proteins, optical signal transduction of intracellular information and bioimaging, search and construction of new luminescence-related proteins, determination of the spatial structure of proteins involved in infections, and structural and biological analysis of the functional spatial structural correlations of a wide variety of proteins. Specific research themes are:
(1) Biomolecular theoretical research on bioluminescence (ultimate factors of bioluminescence) and nonlinear spatio-temporal analysis
(2) Construction of expression system structures of fluorescent proteins, luminescent enzymes and fusion proteins, and their application to environmental toxicity evaluation and bioassay
(3) Optical signaling and bioimaging of intracellular network information
(4) Determination of the three-dimensional structure of virulence factor proteins and identification of the molecular mechanism of infiltration and toxicity development.
Analytical Chemistry laboratory Chemical and Biochemical Engineering laboratory
Analytical chemistry aims to develop new methodologies for the elucidation of natural phenomena important to chemistry, yet unaddressed until now. This discipline covers a wide range of areas.
We develop separation and analysis methods that can be widely utilized in the field of life science as well as, in global environmental and energy issues, and thereby discover new principles and laws of natural science. Specifically, we 1) develop new methods for separation and determination using soft interfaces between liquid and soft materials such as gels, emulsions and ionic liquids; 2) conduct electrochemical research on thermodynamics, kinetics and nonlinear phenomena involved in the membrane transport of electric charges (biomembranes, liquid membranes, polymer membranes, etc.); 3) analyze the accumulation mechanisms of ionic compounds —ionic drugs, penetration peptides, etc—into biomembranes and apply those to novel dose methods for drugs; and 4) develop practical electrochemical devices for ion-sensing.
In this laboratory, we utilize chemical engineering methodologies to develop the core technologies related to medicines and biomanufacturing, with a strong focus on using unit operation perspectives cultivated in the biochemical engineering and biological process engineering fields. More specifically, we use protein analytical technologies such as proteome analysis and immunoassay systems to develop pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostic methodologies, as well as researching antibody production. We also conduct development on immunoassay methods, which is a diagnostic technology using antibodies, and develop methods to specifically measure minute amounts of antigens in blood and bodily fluids.
We perform sophisticated chemical engineering analysis on such things as antibody association rate, transport phenomena, and equilibrium reactions.
We also utilize new materials and genetic modification technologies to develop more sensitive, convenient and faster diagnostic methods than are currently available.
Rubber and Elastomer Science laboratory Biopolymer Chemistry laboratory
Rubbers and elastomers are polymers that serve as fundamentally important materials in our lives. These are essential soft materials for a wide variety of devices such as tires, seismic isolation rubbers and medical materials. In our laboratory, systematic research is conducted on the relationships among the synthesis, structure and properties of rubbers and elastomers. To serve as a world-leading research center, we focus on: 1) the science of natural rubber and its hybrid materials; 2) vulcanization and reinforcement of rubbers; 3) nanotechnology in rubber materials; and 4) development of high-performance and high-function rubber materials for sustainability science. We strive to make an impact on rubber science and technology for the benefit of the world. We conduct research to pioneer new types of biotechnology using a combination of protein engineering and polymer chemistry that may have applications in the fields of pharmaceuticals, food technology and environmental engineering. Through a combination of genetic modification and peptide engineering, we attempt to create functional nanofibers which can control immunology and cell growth. We also design biomolecules with the use of cutting edge biochemical analytical technologies to help develop cures for diseases and also to develop functional foods. More specifically, we are active in the following three areas of research:
(1) Search for and development of functional molecules to control neurodegenerative diseases;
(2) Mechanisms for the formation of polypeptide nanofibers and applications in medical material engineering; and
(3) Development of enzyme-compounded polymer matrices that can decompose environmental gases.
Bioregulation Science laboratory Biofunctional Chemistry laboratory
Our laboratory uses the tools of chemistry, including organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, physiological chemistry, and biochemistry, in the study of the interactions and biological functions of nucleic acids and enzymes. We utilize artificially designed molecules, such as functional oligonucleotides with fluorescence dyes, Raman tags, and photo-reactive derivatives, to establish the principles of gene therapy for new biomedicines and gene technology for cancer diagnosis. From among a wide variety of functional biomolecules produced by organisms, our research identifies molecules useful for healthcare and agriculture, elucidates their structures and mechanisms, and applies them to practical uses. Using biochemical methods, we research: 1) the control of metabolic syndrome: We use animal models and cells to search for and identify natural substances which prevent metabolic syndrome, and study their mechanisms, 2) the control of infections: We isolate and identify lytic bacteriophage and natural antimicrobial substances to control infectious diseases, mainly in agriculture and stock farming, 3) the elucidation of sick building syndrome: We analyze changes in the body caused by chemicals using Drosophila, to study its pathogenic mechanisms.
Environmental Measurement Technology laboratory Environmental Materials laboratory
Humanity is facing a number of enormous challenges to our ongoing survival. There are global issues such as global warming, ozone layer destruction and acid rain, as well as localized water, air and soil pollution, creation and processing of enormous levels of waste products, and resource depletion. In the Environmental Measurement Technology field of research, we develop technologies to measure trace pollutants in the environment, analyze the environmental dynamics and evaluate impacts on the environment to clarify the issues we face, and perform research to help resolve these issues. More specifically, we perform the following:
(1) Kinetic analysis on acid precipitates (acid rain, acidic gas) and evaluation of the impact on forest soil ecosystems;
(2) Clarification of organic pollution in closed water areas like Lake Biwa in Japan, specifically the impact of soil-originated humic substance and algal organic matter on the increase in decomposition resistant organic matter; and
(3) Development of technologies to dispose waste products and recycle resources, and research into life cycle assessment (LCA).
Now is the time to be concerned about the global environment. In particular, our dependence on fossil-fuel is being questioned seriously. Our laboratory researches eco-friendly materials with a particular focus on the environment and light. Multi-band gallium nitride is a substance photosensitive to a wide spectrum of light from the ultraviolet to infrared regions. Focusing on its properties, we study the potentials of water splitting photocatalysts from which hydrogen, a clean energy source, is obtained. Its solar cell applications unlimited solar energy, as well as its application to a highly-efficient light/energy conversion system are also our targets.
Another interest we pursue is Kumagusu Minakata, a modern Japanese pioneering environmentalist. We examine his work from the perspective of the history of environmental science.

 

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