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

Biophysical Chemistry laboratory Molecular Structural Chemistry laboratory
When studying optics and life, the following are critical core areas of research: bioluminescence molecular mechanisms, molecular function of luminescent enzymes and fluorescent proteins, intracellular information optical signal transduction and bioimaging, searching for and constructing new luminescence-related proteins, determining spatial structure for proteins related to communicable diseases, the function of diverse proteins, and the structure and biological analysis of functional spatial structure correlation. An overview of the main specific research themes are shown below:
(1) Research concerning the biomolecular theory of bioluminescence (true source of bioluminescence) and nonlinear spatio-temporal analysis;
(2) Expression system structures and molecular function analysis of fluorescent proteins, luminescent enzymes , fusion proteins, or other expression systems;
(3) Optical signaling and bioimaging of intracellular network information; and
(4) 3D structure determination and infiltration of virulence factor proteins, identification of molecular mechanisms to express toxicity.
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.
Analytical Chemistry laboratory Biopolymer Chemistry laboratory
Analytical chemistry is the field of study that develops new analytical methodologies to tackle important yet unresolved challenges related to chemistry. In this field, we research a wide range of subjects. Our goals are to develop new isolation and analytical methodologies that can be used in a wide range of fields, from biological processes through to environmental and energy issues, and to use these techniques to discover new theories and laws in the natural sciences. More specifically, we are working on the following: development of new isolation and analysis methods using the interfaces of gels, emulsions, ionic liquids and other fluids; thermodynamic and kinetic research on membrane transport of electric charges (biomembranes, fluid membranes, polymeric membranes, etc.); microanalysis of peptides, proteins and other biological substances and identification of biomembrane reactions; and a hybrid of optics and electrochemistry in areas such as chemical luminescence, fluorescence and optical waveguides. 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.
Rubber and Elastomer Science laboratory Bioregulation Science laboratory
Polymeric materials are one of the three largest groups of materials, and of these, rubber elastomers are the foundation of the transportation society that we live in. They are essential to the construction of a huge range of devices, from seismic isolation rubbers through to electrically conductive and medical rubbers. In this field, we are one of the few centers that conducts systematic research into the correlation between rubber elastomer synthesis, structure and properties. Aiming to be a world leading research center, we investigate the following areas:
① Research related to rubber vulcanization and reinforcement to find and propose new mechanisms;
② Leverage the latest technologies to identify the details of rubber science: expand into nanotechnology using the correlation between rubber structure and properties; and
③ Based on sustainability science, work towards the discovery of elastomer materials with superior performance and function.
We aim to be a source of valuable information that can be used around the world.
The understanding of the entire human gene order through the Human Genome Project has made it clear that genes have vastly greater functionality than previously believed. Amongst others, the function of RNA is an area of great focus. Human genetic order information has also enabled the realization of genetic diagnosis and treatment. How this genetic information is used to improve our QOL (quality of life) is one of the challenges facing the life sciences in the 21st century. In our laboratory, our research is aimed towards utilizing functional nucleic acids developed using organic chemistry methods to establish principles of genetic treatment methods and develop genetic diagnostic technologies.
Biofunctional Chemistry laboratory Chemical and Biochemical Engineering laboratory
Our research is aimed towards identifying those functional biomolecules produced by organisms that could be useful in medical and agriculture fields, identifying their structure and functionality, and then generating applications for this knowledge. Using biochemistry techniques, we construct an assay system to investigate functional biomolecules that can help to control metabolic syndrome and infectious diseases. Using this assay system, we isolate functional biomolecules (enzymes, peptides, carbohydrate chains, flavonoids, etc.) from microbes and plants and identify their structure and functionality.
(1) Controlling metabolic syndrome: utilizing a functional evaluation system using test tubes, cells and disease model organisms, investigate mainly plant material to identify metabolic syndrome inhibitors and analyze their structure;
(2) Controlling infectious diseases: recreate in test tubes the unique metabolic pathway of malaria-causing protozoans, investigate and identify seed compounds from microbes and plants that can be used for anti-malaria drugs.
In addition to the above we are also conducting research on functional biomolecules that can control bacterial infectious diseases in the agricultural field.
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.
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).
We have reached a stage as a society where we need to consider the environment at the global level, and the dependence of our lifestyles on fossil fuels is being reconsidered. In the Environmental Materials field of research, we conduct research on materials that will have minimal impact on the earth, with key focuses on the environment and optics. Our research efforts are centered around multi-band gallium nitride, a substance which is photosensitive across a wide spectrum from the ultraviolet to the infrared. We believe the challenge is to develop applications in highly efficient solar energy conversion systems, and therefore investigate the use of gallium nitride in water soluble photocatalysts through which we can derive hydrogen, an environmentally sustainable source of energy, and also its characteristics in solar cells, which utilize solar energy.
Additionally, as part of our work in environmental science history we will also soon begin research on Kumagusu Minakata, one of the forefathers of Japanese environmentalism.