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Learning Lounge

Why our science matters

The "Learning Lounge" features young scientists who, in 20 minutes deliver a presentation that will persuade any curious listener, even those without a scientific background, why their research area -- not just the personal research of the speaker -- is important to the world.

#14 (Special collaboration with iCeMS Caravan) - August 8, 2017

#11 - January 26, 2017

#10 - November 24, 2016

#9 - September 29, 2016

#8 - July 28, 2016

#7 - April 27, 2016

#6 - March 31, 2016

#5 - February 25, 2016

Golden Rods & Guided Robots: Your 'Nano Doctors' Healing from Within


Mr. Hirotaka Nakatsuji (iCeMS Tatsuya Murakami Lab)

Drugs are advancing together with the medical science. Before the advent of modern medicine, we use medical plant and prayers. Nowadays we use chemically synthesized drugs or gene therapy agent. However, some things have not changed. Once the pill is popped, there are nothing we can do. Here, I will introduce our remote-controlled "drugs", which can heal more effectively and properly.

Speaker's comments

Our laboratory is focusing on biological application of light-responsive nanomaterials, like the materials used for solar cells. In our nerve cells, there are pain receptors called TRPV1, which responds to heat, acid and capsaicin (the pungent substance in chili peppers). In this talk, I introduce my research about controlling heat-sensitive pain receptor TRPV1 with light, by using nanomaterials which absorb light and generate heat. This time’s talk is only based on the experiments with cultured cells, but if we apply this method in our body, we might become able to control pain with light in the future.

Seeing is Believing; What Happens in the Brain?


Ms. Ikumi Oomoto (iCeMS Dan Ohtan Wang Lab)

When we receive an idea or learn a new song, what needs to happen in our brain? To find the answer, it is best to "see" it. I will talk about a novel technique to "light-up" and "see" the changes in a brain upon learning.

Speaker's comments

In Wang group, we have developed a new imaging method to monitor RNA dynamics in living animal brains with the goal to understand molecular mechanism of learning and memory. Our strategy is to decrease fluorescence background noise in order to better detect signals and thus to get clear images. Though there are many steps to take before we can achieve imaging of learning-triggered RNA dynamic changes in a living animal, I enjoy taking one step forward everyday to solve the scientific mystery.

#4 - November 19, 2015

Decoding the Keys of Our Life Cycle


Dr. Yoji Kojima (iCeMS Mitinori Saitou Lab)

Human life starts from a single cell, the fertilized egg, made from a sperm and an egg from the parents. This cell gives rise to all our body parts including the germ cells, from which offspring develop. How is this life cycle maintained? Join us to learn about the key players, the germ cells, and why and how we use the iPS cells to understand their behaviors.

Speaker's comments

In Saitou group, we have established a method to differentiate mouse ES cells to Primordial Germ Cell (PGC)-like cells. By applying this to human iPS cells, we are trying to peek inside the tightly locked blackbox - “The mechanisms of birth defects resulting from abnormal germ cells development”. We are striving to understand the molecular mechanisms of the birth defects, and hope someday in the future, we come across the clues to prevent them.

#3 - October 21, 2015

How Is Your DNA Passed Onto Your Children?


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Dr Aya Sato-Carlton (iCeMS Peter Carlton Lab)

When we generate sperm or eggs, we package only half of our DNA strands into each sperm or egg cell. How are DNA molecules controlled in such a precise manner? I will show how DNA molecules are handled during this cell division, passing your genetic information onto your children.

Making Invisible Worlds Visible


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Dr Hideki Hirori (iCeMS Koichiro Tanaka Lab)

Human eyes work well in bright sunlight, and they enable us to quickly see tiny dust specks as well as huge mountains in full color. However, under the darkness of night, they hardly help at all. Nonetheless, there exist animals, e.g., snakes, whose "eyes" are sensitive to infrared radiation emitted from their prey, enabling them to hunt in the dark. Here, I will show how humankind has made invisible worlds visible by developing laser radiation devices that go far beyond what sunlight can reveal.

#2 - August 3, 2015

Nature-inspired Cure for the Incurable--Coming Soon?


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Dr Ganesh Pandian Namasivayam
(iCeMS Hiroshi Sugiyama Lab)

We often see on the daily news that a recent scientific discovery has brought us one step closer to the cure for diseases considered incurable. But how close are we? Join us to have a closer look at the need to develop nature-inspired therapeutic strategies for speeding up the journey toward sustainable cures for complex diseases.

What is a Heart Attack?


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Dr Marcel Hörning (iCeMS Motomu Tanaka Lab)

Do you know!? Though heart diseases are one of the most common causes of death worldwide, most people do not know what heart diseases are, or how they are treated. Here I will present what happens to your heart during a heart attack, and how AEDs and implantable cardiac pacemakers help you to stay alive.

#1 - June 29, 2015

My Life as A Microchip


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Dr Ken-ichiro Kamei (iCeMS Yong Chen Lab)

Away from the lengthy, costly, and failure-prone animal models, novel ways are needed to study the physiology, the causes of diseases, and the responses to drugs and chemicals of whole living systems. Here I will introduce a potentially disruptive solution for recreating these fundamental phenomena in a single micro-device: the 'Body on a Chip'.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? -- How to Manage Your Cholesterol


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Dr Koh Nagata (iCeMS Kazumitsu Ueda Lab)

What did you eat yesterday? Steak, hamburger, fried chicken, ice cream... Often you are reminded, from the TV or your mother, how bad you are for eating such cholesterol-rich foods. Yet, cholesterol is an indispensable component of your body, whose concentration is elaborately regulated. Here, I will present how 'good' cholesterol (HDL) is invaluable in preventing heart disease and extending your good health.