[Structural Life Science] Structural Life Science and Advanced Core Technologies for Innovative Life Science Research

Strategic Objective

Creation of new technologies for breakthrough in understanding and predicting biological activities and intermolecular interactions by means of “Novel Structural Life Science” that contributes to new medical treatment and prevention of various diseases, food safety enhancement and environmental improvement

Research Supervisor

Keiji Tanaka (Director, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science)


This Research Area aims to integrate cutting-edge life science areas with structural biology for creating “structural life science” and advanced core technologies that will lead to innovation in life science. It will address fundamental problems in life science by integrating advanced methods of structural analysis seamlessly and establishing general principles for elucidating and predicting dynamics of hierarchical structures ranging from the atomic to the cellular and/or tissue levels.
The recent large-scale research projects in structural biology in Japan have achieved major advances in determination of protein structures with biological significance. Proteins play key roles in biological events; however, they do not function alone. Therefore, the next important step is to determine the dynamics of such proteins and to study the functional mechanisms underlying the interactions among proteins and various other biological macromolecules. For example, many diseases of animals and plants are caused by protein abnormalities. Thus, structural life science, a new branch of science proposed for understanding biological phenomena of fundamental importance based on structural methods, should play an essential role in elucidating molecular mechanisms and developing new therapeutic methods and means of disease prevention. The structural life science approach is also required for promoting a healthy and long-lived society, establishing safe food production systems, and solving environmental problems. Structural life science addresses these issues by establishing general principles underlying temporal and spatial changes of biological systems at the atomic or molecular level and by predicting dynamics of biological phenomena from these principles.
Utilizing the structural life science approaches, this CREST Research Area seeks to analyze dynamics of important functional machineries involved in biological phenomena, for example, large protein complexes and organelles; to identify pathogens and determine their structures in complex with cognate interaction molecules; to search efficiently lead compounds for structure-based drug discovery processes; and to create advanced technologies required for such studies.

Research Area Advisors

・Yoshinori OHSUMI, Ph.D.
The Title of Honorary Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology

・ Takashi GOJOBORI, Ph.D.
Vice-Director, National Institute of Genetics

・Ichio SHIMADA, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Tokyo

・Motowo NAKAJIMA, Ph.D.
Director & CSO SBI Pharmaceuticals Co.Ltd.

・Toshio HAKOSHIMA, Ph.D.
Professor, Nara Institute of Science and Technology

・Yoshinori FUJIYOSHI, Ph.D.
Professor, Nagoya University

・Toshio FURUYA, Ph.D.
President & CEO PharmaDesign,Inc.

・Masayuki MIURA, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Tokyo

・Yuriko YAMAGATA, Ph.D.
Professor, Kumamoto University

・Masasuke YOSHIDA, Ph.D.
Senior Research Fellow, Kyoto Sangyo University

Year Started : 2012

Elucidation of the structural and functional network with mitochondria as a hub

Research Director:
Toshiya Endo (Professor,Department of Molecular Biosciences、Kyoto Sangyo University)

Structural biology of infection and carcinogenesis by Helicobacter Pylori

Research Director:
Toshiya Senda(Professor, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization “KEK”)

Structural studies of the mitochondrial respiratory chain – structure impacts efficiency-.

Research Director:
Tomitake Tsukihara (Professor, University of Hyogo)

Structural basis of biological system for energy metabolism using dihydrogen

Research Director:
Yoshiki Higuchi(Professor, University of Hyogo)

Structural life science of membrane receptor complexes and their downstream signaling for synapse formation.

Research Director:
Shuya Fukai(Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo)

Studies on the structural basis of multidrug efflux transport and the development of multidrug transporter inhibitors.

Research Director:
Akihito Yamaguchi(Professor, Osaka University)

Year Started : 2013

Dynamic structural lifescience of protein machinery driven by ATP/GTP

Research Director:
Toshio Ando(Professor, Kanazawa University)

Molecular studies of RNA-dysmetabolic syndrome - From ribonucleoproteomics to structural life science –

Research Director:
Toshiaki ISOBE(Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University)

Establishment of in situ structural biology through the integration of NMR and computational science and its application to the investigation of eukaryotic intracellular protein behaviours

Research Director:
Yutaka Ito(Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University)

Structural Studies on the transient macromolecular complexes formed upon photoacclimation

Research Director:
Genji, Kurisu(Professor, Osaka University)

Structural analyses of Toll-like receptors sensing single stranded nucleic acids in innate immunity and their application

Research Director:
Toshiyuki Shimizu(Professor, The University of Tokyo)

Maintenace of ER homeostasis: Crosstalks of redox regulation with calcium regulatiojn and protein quality control in the ER.

Research Director:
Kazuhiro Nagata(Professor, Kyoto Sangyo University)

Structural life science for unveiling membrane dynamics during autophagy

Research Director:
Nobuo N. Noda(Chief Researcher, Microbial Chemistry Research Foundation)

Year Started : 2014

Cellular structural biology of cilia/flagella

Research Director:
Masahide Kikkawa(Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo)

Structural and Functional Analysis of Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation to Develop the New Therapeutic Method

Research Director:
Seiji Takashima(Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University)

Structural studies of the proteins working in novel cell membrane potential signal

Research Director:
Atsushi Nakagawa(Professor, Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University)

Asymmetrical distribution of phospholipids at plasma membranes, and its breakdown

Research Director:
Shigekazu Nagata(Specially Appointed Professor, Immunology Frontire Research Center,Osaka University)

Molecular mechanisms of gravitropic signaling in the sensing cells〜From molecular structure to plant organ response〜

Research Director:
Miyo T. Morita(Professor, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University)

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