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Last modified on September 21, 2013

Research Center for Complex Systems Biology

The Research Center for Complex Systems Biology was established within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2004, following a structural reform within the university. The Center takes the Graduate School at the University of Tokyo as its base to collaborate with leading universities in and out of Japan in the field of 'synthetic biology' - a holistic approach complementary to the traditional reductionist methods of genetics in investigating biological function, and which focuses on homeostasis, acquired learning and adaptive evolution as the fundamental and interrelated constituents of a biological system. We aim to promote this new wave in life sciences research, and at the same time, develop our Center into a key base that will be able to produce results unparalleled by Western institutions.

The Department of Basic Sciences at our Section had long been held in international renown for its research into complex systems. Upon the launch of the 20th Century Centers of Excellence (COE) Program 'Analysing Biological Systems as a Complex System' in 1999, we began to develop a synthetic approach for investigating the true nature of biological systems, with close coordination of experiment and theory, in order to understand the fundamental mechanisms that govern life phenomena across all levels and scales. The same synthetic approach was inherited by its successor, the 21st Century COE Program 'Research Center for Integrated Science', and have been producing exceptional results as well as creating a new wave in life science research.

In this way, we had successfully established ourselves at the Komaba campus as the center of research in synthetic biology in Japan. In recent years, however, projects in a similar vein as our research approach are successively being launched on a national scale in many Western countries. In order to retain our position as the global leader and pioneer from the inception of this field, and to further develop this new discipline of complex systems biology, the university founded the new Research Center for Complex Systems Biology.

The Research Center for Complex Systems Biology consists of six divisions, as listed below. Each division is led by a staff member from the Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences, and includes more than 20 research collaborators from both within Japan and abroad. Research exchange seminars are also held on a regular basis in order to encourage inter-division interaction and potential collaborative projects.

 

The Six Divisions of our Center

Theory of Complex Systems Biology Division In this Division, we look at new theoretical models for investigating the 'dynamics of biogenesis', which can no longer be explained by conventional statistical mechanics or thermodynamics. We reorganise and challenge concepts within each discipline that demand reconsideration.
Artificial Synthesis of Self-replicating Systems Division In this Division, we create a chemical self-replicating system composed of the fundamental organic molecules, in order to understand the origin of life and the evolution from the primitive cell. We then develop the system into a self-replicating protocell to study the process of differentiation and evolution through multiple replication generations, which in turn serve as a model for understanding the process of differentiation and evolution of life.
Developmental Biology Division In this Division, we aim to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the process of emergence of multicellular organisms and their regenerative capacity during generation and differentiation, through studying functional differentiation in cell population models or in the artificial synthesis of human organs.
Quantitative Biology Division  In this Division, we utilise nanotechnology and micro-fabrication technology as our main methods to develop quantitative measures for single molecules and single cells, in order to investigate the fundamental principles that lie behind dynamic biological phenomena.
Symbiosis and Co-evolution Division Among the many forms of life systems, we particularly focus on the evolutionary phenomena of symbiosis and the universal principles that lie behind them, through an integrated approach that includes experimental analysis, mathematical models and simulation analysis.
Systems and Computational Neurosciences Division In this Division, we aim for a true unification of the arts and sciences through an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on communication systems, especially language processing systems, and investigate both its principles as well as possibilities for real-life applications.

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