Optical control of biological functions for the elucidation of biological systems

Strategic Objective

Development of optical control technologies and elucidation of biological mechanisms

Research Supervisor

Yoshinori Shichida (Visiting professor, Research Organization of Science and Technology, Ritsumeikan University/Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University)


The purpose of this research area is to develop innovative technologies for optical control of living organisms. Thus, we aim to establish new technologies for controlling biological functions through the collaboration and integration of different areas, with emphasis on the following three areas: “control of biological functions, observation of biological phenomena, and elucidation of biological systems.
In recent years, life science has begun to make rapid progress in understanding of biological phenomena through the development of various technologies for controlling biological functions utilizing properties of light. For example, optogenetics has brought about a revolutionary shift in the elucidation of biological systems for neural networks, through the expression of photosensitive protein in neurons followed by irradiation with light of a specific wavelength. In addition, new technologies for controlling biological functions have began to appear including technologies to control enzymatic activity with photosensitive proteins, intracellular signal transduction, and gene expression in combination with genome editing.
The development of these technologies may begin spreading explosively because a great number of findings, such as the identification of light-related proteins, have emerged over the past 70 years; furthermore, a basis for these proteins to be applied to the living organisms has been established. Additionally, basic findings have been further honed to overcome shortcomings of existing technologies, and the development of novel optical control of biological functions has surfaced as a globally impending issue.
Based on the background described above, we aim to promote research and development of technologies for the optical control of biological functions, together with the observation, measurement, and analysis of biological phenomena that emerge in the optical control of biological functions, as well as the elucidation of biological systems by these technologies. This research area will be managed to establish innovative optical control of biological functions by encouraging collaboration among research areas representing our country’s strengths; these areas include photobiology, photonics, nanotechnology, engineering, and physiology.

Research Area Advisors

・Tadashi Isa
Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University

・Masahiro Ueda
Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Bioscience, Osaka University

・Hideyo Ohuchi
Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University

・Jun Ohta
Professor, Graduate School of Materials Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology

・Mikio Kataoka
Science Coordinator, Neutron Science and Technology Center, Comprehensive Research Organization for Science and Society/Professor Emeritus, Nara Institute of Science and Technology

・Hisayoshi Takamoto
Manager, The 8th Research Group, Central Research Laboratory, Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.

・Akihisa Terakita
Professor, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University

・Hiroko Terasaki
Professor & Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University

・Satoru Tokutomi
Professor Emeritus, Osaka Prefecture University

・Akinao Nose
Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo

・Ikue Mori
Professor, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University

・Akihiro yamanaka
Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University

Year Started : 2016

Understanding and repairing brain synchronization using fast optical

Research Director:
Kei M Igarashi(Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine)

Spatiaotemporal light control to investigate behavioral decisions based on the brain’s spatial representaiton system.

Research Director:
Hiroshi Ito(Research Group Leader, Memory and Navigation Circuits Group, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research)

Development in advanced techniques for high-resolution multi-dimensional analyses of neural networks based on pathway-selective optogenetic manipulation

Research Director:
Ken-ichi Inoue(Assistant Professor, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University)

Creation of new methods for manipulation of memory by extraction of characteristic patterns of engram

Research Director:
Noriaki Ohkawa(Lecturer, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama)

Development of methodology for photo-controlling and flureoscent imaging of proteins based on peptide-based molecular

Research Director:
Takashi Kawakami(Assistant Professor, Faculty of Life and Enviromental Sciences, University of Yamanashi)

Optogenetic approaches to understanding plasma membrane-dependent celllular senescence

Research Director:
Keiko Kono(Lecturer, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya City University)

Development of a technology for light-inducible genome editing and gene expression modification in target organ

Research Director:
Kazuo Takayama(Specially Appointed Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University)

Attempts to vision restortion by applying enzyme rhodopsins

Research Director:
Satoshi Tsunoda(PRESTO Researcher, Japan Science and Technology Agency)

Development of Fully Implantable Deivice for Optical Control

Research Director:
Takashi Tokuda(Associate Professor, Graduate School of Materials, Nara Institute of Science and Technology)

Optogenetic mutagenesis for innovative genome modification

Research Director:
Kentaro Noma(Assistant Professor, School of Sciences, Nagoya University)

Development of an ultra-deep imaging microscope using a long-wavelength laser system

Research Director:
Yutaka Nomura(Assistant Professor, Institute for Molecular Science, National Institutes of Natural Sciences)

Opt-CRISPRed mouse system for understanding the behavior of transformed cells

Research Director:
Takeshi Maruyama(Assistant Professor, Institute for Genetic Medicine, Hokkaido University)

Development of non-invasive optical intervention techniques for elucidation of neural basis of animal behavior

Research Director:
Takayuki Yamashita(Assistant Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University)

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