Learning Lounge

Why our science matters

The "Learning Lounge" video series 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.

#15 November 16, 2017

Nano-windmill for high-performance batteries

Dr Satoshi Horike

High-performance batteries will allow for major technological innovations. In order to achieve high-performance batteries, we are trying to control the nano-scale motion of charge in materials. In this talk, I will describe a nano-scale 'windmill' which can control the motion of charge with high precision.

Fighting cancer by unleashing immunity

Dr Partha Chowdhury

Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine, Kyoto University

Fight against cancer, the king of all maladies has been going on for several centuries and the conventional approaches often fail and lead to unforeseen side effects. One way to tackle this issue is to gain a deeper understanding of our immune system and unleash their power to kill the cancer cells with higher strike rate. Join us to know the progress of cancer vs immunity battle.

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

March 4, 2017 - iCeMS Caravan at Aizugakuho High Shool in Fukushima: This is what led the high school students to iCeMS.

Scientists, Show Yourselves!

Aizugakuho High School Students

We know the word 'scientist', but does anybody know what a scientist actually does? We believe that through greater interaction with society, scientists can empower young people. We therefore ask you to hear our request: "tell us what you are doing!"

Speakers' comments

The experience of taking part in the iCeMS Learning Lounge made us mature in some ways. It improved our English and presentation skills. It taught us how to construct what is in our mind. Last but not least, the most significant change was that we came to be confident and proud of what we have worked on. We love everything that we have absorbed from the iCeMS activities, including chatting with iCeMS scientists. They motivated us to do “something interesting” to become a COOL adult like them. We appreciate iCeMS and our teachers for giving us such a wonderful opportunity. Thank you so much.

What High School Principals Can Do for the Next Generations

Mr Tomomichi Kato

Principal of Aizu Gakuho High School

The iCeMS Caravan “Mechanism for Learning” held at Aizu-Gakuho this March inspired both the students and us teachers. “What is the key to fostering the next generations?” Keeping this in mind, principals always need to consider the key elements for developing students’ abilities. I’d like to share and discuss our approach to “our future”.

Speaker's comments

It was an honor to be able to participate in the special project of Learning Lounge where high school students and principals made a presentation, but I was nervous and I felt pressure like I had never experienced. Through examining the content of my presentation and making slides, I found several problems with our school that as the principal I can address and hopefully improve. Thank you for your precious opportunity.

#13 - June 7, 2017


Dr Jun Suzuki

iCeMS Jun Suzuki Lab



Dr Shuhei Furukawa

iCeMS Shuhei Furukawa Lab


#12 - April 26, 2017

Peeking into the Cell with a Chemical Tool

Dr Yousuke Katsuda

iCeMS Motonari Uesugi Lab, Kyoto University

What would you do to catch an elusive fish from the sea? You would probably put out some bait and wait patiently. But how would you catch something from a cell? Here, I'll show you how we succeeded to catch RNA from cancer cells using a chemical biology approach.

Hand-Delivering Science to You

Ms. Saki Fukuoka

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

3-D graphics help us understand complicated science better, but still, non-scientists like me find it hard to access. What if we change the graphics to hand-drawn charming pictures? People would feel much more familiar to the matter. I believe the feelings of "familiarity" that hand-drawn pictures give can change how science looks to the world.

Speaker's comments

If you dislike a certain food before trying it, you might be missing out on a possible new favorite food. You need to know about it to see if you actually like it or not. Learning is the same. The more advanced it is, the more time and effort is required. Do you think your field of research is interesting? If you want more people to be interested in what you specialize in, you should let them know about it. To help people take their first bite of a new experience, why don't you start by using hand drawing of your field of study?

#11 - January 26, 2017

Shapes of Neurons Shape Our Behavior

Ms Kelly Kawabata

iCeMS Mineko Kengaku Lab

How does your brain recognize a fly, decide to catch it, and then move your hand? Even a simple activity such as this requires neurons to make many, many precise connections in the brain. Different neuronal shapes can control the way connections are made, and studying the rules of how these shapes are formed can help us better understand how the brain works.

Speaker's comments

As of 2017 there are 7.5 billion people on this planet. In our brain, we have about 100 billion neurons, and like people, each of them are constantly sending messages, changing their status, and making, maintaining, or eliminating connections with one another. Understanding this network is an exciting yet massive undertaking, and is the next frontier in biology. In my current research, I focus on how the shapes of neurons are formed to make their proper connections. I’m always excited when learning about how a seemingly tiny change on the molecular scale can so vividly impact how our brain functions.

Foul Play! Making Self-Cleaning Surfaces

Mr Andrew Gibbons

iCeMS Easan Sivaniah Lab

What if we had self-cleaning surfaces? Currently, cleaning of filters used in industry costs a great deal of time and money. Fouling on medical devices can lead to rejection by the body. In my talk I explain how fouling occurs and how we can develop self-cleaning surfaces.

Speaker's comments

While I’m at home, cleaning is a boring but important chore. In my lab however, the problem of how to keep surfaces clean becomes an exciting challenge requiring creative thinking. I began this research when I was developing filter membranes which are often damaged by the buildup of dirt. I am trying to create surfaces that can keep themselves clean while in use. This is a very useful feature for a wide range of devices. I hope that by the end of the talk you are convinced that cleaning isn’t as boring as you thought!

#10 - November 24, 2016

Catch Me If You Can

Dr Junjun Li

iCeMS Yong Chen Lab

Do you care about just "1 error" out of “100,000” normal outcomes? Can you ignore it? NO! You should care! That error will have a huge impact on your health. For safer cell therapy using iPS cells, we need to find every single error; all of the undesired iPS cells from implanted cells or tissues. I will introduce our micro-chip to catch such rare iPS cells.

Speaker's comments

The abilities of iPS cells’ infinite proliferation and pluripotency have opened a gate towards regenerative medicine. However, undifferentiated iPS cells might turn into tumours if directly transplanted into a patient. In this talk I introduce a microfluidic chip to efficiently find and eliminate undifferentiated iPS cells from differentiated tissue cells. In near future, I wish this microfluidic chip would provide safer iPS cells for a patient.

Gene Switch: Asking cells, “Who Are You?"

Dr Yoshihiko Fujita

CiRA Hirohide Saito Lab

The iPS cell is a promising cell resource to cure many patients. We first need to purify only our target cell type from the other unwanted cell types before transplantation. I will introduce our artificial gene switch, which makes only the targeted cells light up.

Speaker's comments

The RNA switch is a one of the promising approach to detect and purify specific cells for medical applications. A complex gene circuit consisted of the RNA switches will work as a logic gate for selecting cells which match multiple conditions, like programing language or electrical circuit. Thus, we think that designing the artificial circuits is not only a scientific challenge but also an important technology for purifying safe transplantable cells from a lot of types of cells generated from iPS cells.

#9 - September 29, 2016

Nano-Pockets to Trap Carbon Dioxide

Dr Patrick Larpent

iCeMS Susumu Kitagawa Lab

The dramatic and continuous increase of carbon dioxide emission responsible of global warming is a major problem for the welfare and future of our planet. The development and easy fabrication of state-of-the-art technologies capable of capturing carbon dioxide efficiently from their emission centers are therefore of crucial needs. Join us to learn about the innovating use of ‘nano-pockets’ towards the realization of such novel molecule capturing systems.

Zoo from Lorises' Point of View

Ms Wan-Ting Hong

iCeMS Dan Ohtan Wang Lab

The well-being of zoo animals is now drawing much more attention than before. But how do we know whether animals are satisfied about their environment or not? Let's look at slow lorises as an example of how well-being of zoo animals are measured quantitatively, in an effort to improve the lives of these small primates whose welfare is often overlooked.

Speaker's comment

Animals think, perceive their environment and experience suffering and pleasure as we do. However, while doctors can ask human patients how they feel, we have no idea whether animals are happy, sad or stressed because we do not share a common language with them. Scientists have been trying to establish rigorous scientific methods to measure well-being of animals as pets, in zoos, laboratories, on farms and in the wild.

#8 - July 28, 2016

Every Little Bit Counts in Human Interaction

Dr Ayami Joh

iCeMS Sience Communication Group

Greeting, having meetings, playing with friends, spending good times with family…Everyday, we interact with many people, and such daily communication is made up of a variety of secret factors that influence our thinking and behavior. In our research, we observe people’s daily interactions, and carefully analyze the “factors”. Join our exploration to find what they actually are.

Speaker's comments

Human interactions are organized by various resources, such as selections of expression, subtle motor actions, and articulations, so much more complicatedly than we imagine. In this talk I am discussing a part of my findings and the ongoing project based on a research program called Conversation Analysis. It is great that without special training, human beings can use their great abilities to coordinate their conduct by the millisecond and produce actions relevant to the people and situations involved.

Seeing the Dynamics of Science Convergence

Dr Alfonso Avila-Robinson

iCeMS Alfonso Avila-Robinson Lab

Knowledge is rapidly growing and simultaneously fragmenting into numerous disciplines, making it difficult for scientists to see the “bigger pictures” of their science. Here I will show how the three-dimensional networking of meta-knowledge – knowledge about knowledge – can help us to see the continuous breaking down of barriers between disciplines in modern science.

Speaker's comments

As the challenges facing researchers become more complex, the understanding of convergence―the merging of multiple and disparate disciplines― in science is more relevant. In this talk, I show that three-dimensional visualizations of knowledge structures can help us understand the complex interconnections of science. Future studies will explore the impact of convergence at a global level, as well as the types of research institutions that support convergent research.

#7 - April 27, 2016

Making Malaria the Last Century’s Problem

Dr Kouichi Hasegawa

iCeMS NCBS-inStem Satellite Group

Do you know malaria? Malaria is a big global health issue and has huge economic and social impacts. Many people are suffering malaria in the world. If you are in Japan or western countries, you may think malaria is somebody else’s problem. However, things are not so easy. Malaria is our problem too. We are working hard on overcoming this, and making malaria the last century’s problem!

Speaker's comments

I introduce our study on a malaria model system with iPS cells conducted under the international collaboration between Japan’s iCeMS and India’s NCBS/inStem. Nowadays, when people can easily travel around the world, there is enough risk to acquire malaria even in Japan—and Canada where many students in this talk’s audience are from. I would like people to know the importance of our world-wide research to combat malaria.

Nanotechnology by Herding Molecules – Hints from Theory

Dr Daniel Packwood

iCeMS Daniel Packwood Lab

Society is demanding smaller and smaller electrical devices. Nanotechnology is an entirely new approach to device manufacturing, in which extremely small objects are created by assembling molecules into patterns and shapes. But can nanotechnology truly be realized? This talk will explain the key role that theoretical science is playing in the development of nanotechnology.

Speaker's comments

Viewers beware! You’re in for a scare! Here, we touch on the spooky topic of molecular self-assembly, in which molecules inexplicably gather together to form tiny devices and machines. Might this be the work of a poltergeist? Here, I burst your bubble and explain how molecular self-assembly can be simulated on a computer via judicious mathematics and theoretical chemistry. References to Canada and farm animals are included.

#6 - March 31, 2016

Sticky Moments in Biology

Dr Akihisa Yamamoto

iCeMS Motomu Tanaka Lab

Cells are the basic building blocks within our body, and they are bound together with a kind of 'glue'. When this glue disappears, tissue is destroyed, and serious illness, such as cancer metastasis, occurs. Knowing stickiness may help to recognize which cells are most likely to be healthy or not. I will introduce our physical techniques to directly measure 'stickiness' that allows us to characterize them.

Speaker's comments

Cell adhesion is an important factor to understand how tissues and organs are constructed in living organisms. By quantitatively measuring how the adhesion strength varies over different cell species and states, we are able to understand the mechanism of tissue destruction caused by diseases, and to create novel methodologies to find the first signs of diseases. We aim to study unique phenomena that span physics, biology and medical science.

Protecting Your DNA Code

Dr Georgia Kafer

iCeMS Peter Carlton Lab

The human instruction "manual" is written in a specialized biological code commonly referred to as "DNA". If the DNA is damaged then parts of the code can be lost or misinterpreted which is likely to result in diseases. DNA can be damaged by sources external to the body, but is more commonly damaged by internal "everyday" biological processes. I will discuss our research that investigates how DNA damaged is repaired.

Speaker's comments

Of all the research projects I have worked on so far, my current project studying DNA damage has been the most enjoyable for me. This is because of the beauty that lies in how a cell responds to DNA damage in such a highly organised, yet fascinatingly complex way. It’s also surprising that despite this field of research beginning in the 1940’s we still know relatively little about it. And do you know what is really exciting? Any new knowledge about DNA damage has the potential to directly impact how we view, treat and prevent a huge range of human diseases.

#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?

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

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?

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?

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

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

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.