Department of Integrated Biosciences - Graduate School of Frontier Science, The university of Tokyo

Unique Curriculum

Master's Degree Program in English

We offer the Master's program in English, where no Japanese proficiency is required at the time of admission, a master's program unique among those offered by the University of Tokyo. This breaks down the language barrier which was one of the obstacles preventing international students from studying in Japan.

Interactive Evaluation

The Department of Integrated Biosciences provides the students with opportunities to interact with faculty members regardless of their laboratories. In the degree examination, all faculty members of the department will participate in the evaluation and guidance for the master course mid-term presentation, master thesis presentation and doctor's degree pre-examination. Advices from people who specialize in a research field vastly different from your supervisors' can often bring the opportunity to review your own research.

Unique Curriculum

At the Department of Integrated Biosciences, faculty members gather from diverse study fields including fundamental, agriclutural, pharmaceutical and medical sciences to find a unified understanding of life science through a "common language" which are the basic molecules of life (genome, protein, sugar chain, etc). With the goal of producing "Frontier" students who can exploit new fields over existing boundaries, the following unique lectures/seminars are held as part of our education that cultivates "logical thinking skills", "communication skills" and "motivation to challenge".  Lectures indicated by ** are held in English and those by * are held both in English and Japanese (selective). By taking these lectures, students can earn credits required for the completion of the Master’s Program without taking a lecture given in Japanese.

1. Breakthrough Now and Then I (Pre-School)/ **Breakthrough Now and Then II (compulsory elective, 2 credits)

An overview is provided on what research takes place in every laboratory in the Department of Integrated Biosciences as well as on the code of conduct in scientific research at the University of Tokyo. For students in the post-admission laboratory assignment category, this is where you have the opportunity to hear about the details of the research in each laboratory and then choose your laboratory. From the take-home exams given by each laboratory, students are required to pick two and submit their reports. Excellent reports will be awarded as Pre-School Report Prize. Breakthrough Now and Then II is carried out in English for students who cannot understand Japanese.  

2. Debate on Ethics in Science and Technology/ **Debate on Topics in Science and Technology (compulsory elective, 2 credits)

For the purpose of developing researchers who can act appropriately on their opinions and uphold a proper sense of ethics, a lecture on student participation will be carried out. Debate on Topics in Science and Technology is carried out in English for students who cannot understand Japanese.  

3. *Frontiers in Molecular Biology I (compulsory, 1 credit), Frontiers in Molecular Biology II (semi-compulsory, 1 credit)

Invited lecturers introduce and discuss  the diverse field of life science to help students acquire a wide range of knowledge and develop their view on life and inter-relation with society. A credit for I (compulsory) is granted for eight or more attendances, and a credit for II (semi-compulsory) is granted for 16 or more attendances.   

4. *Research Project Planning (Mid-Term Presentation of Master Thesis) (compulsory, 2 credits)

As a mid-term presentation of master thesis research, students will create research achievement reports/plans, create posters, and perform oral presentation to be reviewed/examined by faculty members from other laboratories. In addition, poster presentation must be performed in front of other students. Participating in the panel discussion during the entrance guidance is also a part of the requirement to obtain credits.   

5. *Seminar in Integrated Biosciences (compulsory, 4 credits)

In preparation for master thesis, faculty members of each laboratory will take charge in laboratory seminars and instruct poster/oral presentations and manuscript preparation for publication.   

6. *Research of Integrated Biosciences I (compulsory, 12 credits)

In preparation for master thesis, faculty members of each laboratory will take charge in the selection of theme and conducting experiments.   

7. Lessons in Writing Scientific Papers in English (semi-compulsory, 1 credits)

Basic skills required for writing scientfic papers in English is lectured.   

8. *Practice in Oral Presentation in English (semi-compulsory, 1 credits)

The purpose of this practice is to develop poster/oral presentation skills in English at academic meetings. Through practicing actual English presentations of a poster,  points are insttucted to make the presentation understandable and attractive.   

9. Basic Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (non-compulsory, 1 credit)

For those who did not major in biochemistry or molecular biology during their undergraduate course, we teach the basics of biochemistry and molecular biology which are required for a comprehensive understanding of the wide range of biological phenomena covered in the Department of Integrated Biosciences. 

10. Statistical Analysis for Biosciences (non-compulsory, 1 credit)

Understand the statistics which is the base of life science research, and learn an objective method of data analysis. Also learn how to use different types of database.   

11. *Lectures on Specialized Research by Laboratories (non-compulsory, 1 credit)

・Bio-Medicine, Drug Discovery

Currently, proteins such as cytokine and antibody are used in the treatment of various diseases. Antibody is of course a product of immunology, and many of the cytokines used as medicine nowadays are related to immunological reaction. The purpose of this lecture is to learn the basics of immunology which is essential to the development of such biopharmaceuticals and antibody drugs. Also, in recent years, it has become clear that the cell population called dendritic cells play a main role in the induction and adjustment of immune response, and this knowledge is expected to be applied in the development of vaccines. In this lecture, we will also discuss about the recognition by dendritic cells as well as their functions.     

・Molecular Recognition

Living organisms build various regulation/control systems out of their own molecules to exchange information inside and outside the cells, tissues and organs, and uses these systems to maintain unity and coordination as individual species. The study of interaction between bio-information molecules such as low-molecular organic compounds and peptide hormones, and binding protein and receptor moleclues, is one of the key issues in today's biology. This lecture introduces the method of analysis for the molecular recognition and interaction, as well as the latest research cases.     

・Biochemistry of Cell Responsiveness

Findings on cell responsiveness will be outlined from the basics to applications in order to gain a better understanding. As a separate topic, the latest findings on cell senescence and the characteristics of brain cells will be introduced. Then, students will be provided with opportunities to think/discuss about the adaptability towards the environment of individual species through cell responsiveness.     

・Signal Transduction

The issues required for a fundamental understanding of the existence of life, especially the control mechanism of cell growth, the structure and function of intracellular body, and response phenomena of living organisms, will be outlined. With the study of budding yeast which is a single-cell eukaryote as the main subject, discussions about the latest image of cells will be held on the basis of what we have figured out through the use of exhaustive analysis methods. We will look at the shaping of multi-cellular organisms from the perspective of cell cycle control mechanisms, and learn about the molecular mechanism of expression of high-order function that occurs with cell differentiation. Furthermore, we will discuss the significance of various response phenomena shown by living organisms, with our vision for the future.

・Molecular Mechanisms of Adaptation

1. Transposable elements (H.Fujiwara): Along with an overview of transposition mechanisms and evolution of transposable elements as selfish genes (especially non-LTR type retrotransposon) and telomerase genes, this lecture focuses on the target-specific transposition mechanisms of some retrotransposons and its use.
2. Developmental biology (T.Kojima): Through the molecular mechanism of the evolution and development of insect appendages, students will be lectured about the basic concept of developmental biology and evolutionary developmental biology.     

・Genomic Instability

Life form, which evolved through developing its self-defense mechanism against all types of internal and external mutagens, moved out of the water onto the land which led to gaining diversity up until today.
While genome variation can cause mutation, developmental anomaly or cancer, it can also be a major driving force behind the evolution of species. Although these types of variation are passed onto the next generation via reproductive cells, living things have managed to maintain its diversity through strategies of adapting to the environment. This lecture provides an overview on DNA repair as the most conservative mechanism of life form and mutagenesis as the most creative mechanism of life form, and outlines the biological significance and the analysis methods. Furthermore, the lecture touches on sexual differentiation, gametogenesis, and fertilization as the mechanism for passing the variations to the next generation, by mainly looking at vertebrates.     

・Eucaryotic Cell Biology

As eukaryotic cell biology, the first topic of the lecture is about maternal inheritance and the origin of sexes from the perspective of the behavior of selfish DNA and sex. Additionally, the second topic covers the principle of the structure, morphogenesis, differentiation, growth and disintegration of plant cells.     

・Evolutionary Genetics

The  purpose of this lecture is to provide theoretical framework for studying adaptive evolution of gene function. Since it is the population and genes that change over evolutionary time, it is essential to acquire basic knowledge of population genetics to understand molecular evolution. I shall review several basic concepts of population genetics such as gene frequencies, natural selection and random genetic drift, then introduce the neutral theory of molecular evolution. On the basis of the theorem, methods and their limitations for detecting adaptive evolution are discussed. Finally, direction of evolutionary genetic study will be discussed.

・Control of Biological Function  This lecture is about the basics of animal reproduction and development (mainly insects and mammals), and developmental engineering as its application. Students are to learn the basic principles in the regulation mechanism of life activity, as well as the methods of artificial manipulation.     

・Microbe vs Non-Microbe Interactions

Although invisible to us humans, microbes or small-sized living organisms are predominant on earth. We recognize them through visible outcomes of their interactions with animals and plants, such as outbreak of diseases. This lecture focuses upon interactions at molecular level among plant-pathogenic microbes (including viruses), host plants, and vectoring insects. The lecture will also cover how we can utilize these pieces of information to other field of science, such as development of gene vectors.     

・Human Evolutionary Specificity

By studying about modern humans (Homo sapiens) and the path of our evolution, we can come to understand the biological characteristics of ourselves and extract the cultural elements of humans in the true sense. In this lecture, you will be introduced to many ways of researching the human evolution from the perspective of "evolution in the ecology of the food" to learn about the evolution of humankind. Once we manage to understand our own characteristics on the biological side and the cultral side, we may be able to grasp the root of the problems of modern society by the context of the human evolution.    

12. Laboratory Course for Broadened Bioscience Skills (non-compulsory, 1 credit)

Out of the multiple intensive practice programs offered by the core laboratories at the Department of Integrated Biosciences, pick one that is not from your laboratory and participate in it. By studying the content in advance (preparation), taking part in the actual experiments, and discussing the obtained data, students can acquire new skills, knowledge and information while also developing the ability to think outside their specialty as well as skills in research exchange. 

13. *Advanced Seminar in Integrated Biosciences (compulsory, 8 credit)

In preparation for doctor thesis, faculty members of each laboratory will take charge in laboratory seminars and instruct poster/oral presentations and manuscript preparation for publication.   

14. *Research of Integrated Biosciences II (compulsory, 12 credits)

In preparation for doctor thesis, faculty members of each laboratory will take charge in the selection of theme and conducting experiments.

15. Graduate School of Frontier Sciences Common Subjects (non-compulsory, 1 credit)

Special Lecture on Frontier Science I, II, III, IV, V, VI
Special Lecture on Frontier Science VII, VIII, IX (Joint seminar I, II, III)
Special Lecture on Frontier Science X, XI (Science/Technical English A, B)
Overseas Researches on Frontier Science I, II, III, IV
Advanced Seminar in Frontier Science I, II
Stress Management - to enjoy your student life and social life

16. Archive Lectures University-Wide Open Courses: Life Science Archive Seminar for Graduate Course (non-compulsory, 1 credit),
Life Science Archive Common Lecture (non-compulsory, 1 credit)


About Archive Lectures

■ What is the University-Wide Open Courses?

In order to make a contribution to the field of life science which is rapidly becoming more diverse and complex, researchers will need to acquire a broader knowledge and vision. However, that would be difficult with the existing lectures/seminars being held separately in each graduate school and department to acquire the necessary skills. Therefore, the departments and institutes of life sciences at the University of Tokyo have decided to work together to propose cross-disciplinary subjects that are not bound by existing academic fields, as well as new learning methods. As the first step of such an attempt, "University-Wide Open Courses"  have been started at the Department of Integrated Biosciences where we have instructors from various kinds of academic background. "Life science Archive Seminar for Graduate Course" is one example which, in combination with the "Life Science Archive Common Lecture", provides an effective way to a cross-disciplinary learning.

Also, this subject is not taught face-to-face in a classroom like the conventional style of lectures and adopts a new method where lecture archives are distributed via the web to the registered students. With this method, students now have access to the lectures without any restriction on place or time. We anticipate students to view in an "active manner" to take advantage of web distribution.

■ For the 2019 academic year, the following archive TAs (teaching assistants) are working for us.

●Archive TA
Hongyuan Jin
Risako Fukui
Akie Morioka

Lecture Contents

"Life Science Archive Seminar for Graduate Course III" (Subject No.: 47000-13)
Seminars held in each graduate school are distributed as archive lectures.

- Special Lecture on Frontier Science VII, VIII, IX (Joint seminar I, II, III; from 2008)

"Life Science Archive Common lecture III" (Subject No.: 47000-16)
Lectures held in each Graduate School or Faculty are distributed as archive lectures.
- Frontiers in Molecular Biology I, II (From 2007)

<Notes on attending the lectures>
- Make sure to register for the courses to have an account (user ID and password) issued.
- You must participate in the guidance to learn how to view and take the lectures.

<Evaluation methods>
- Students are evaluated based on their viewing record and reports.
- You must attend at least seven archive lectures.
- Three archives of seminars count as one lectures only when you view the whole content of the seminar archives.
- You need to declare seven of the viewed archives for credit recognition when submitting your report (To be verified with viewing record).
- You need to pick one viewed archive and write a report with 1200 characters or more. Additionally, attach your feedback on the archive with 400 characters or more.

*1: Although many attendants are welcome from the departments and graduate schools of the University of Tokyo, please inquire your department or graduate school about whether or not the credits will be granted.
*2: Students from outside of the Department of Integrated Biosciences should send your name, department, student number by e-mail to the instructor of this lecture after you register in the same procedure as a normal lecture. Unless you send e-mail to the instructor, you cannot receive your account information. Accounts are usually issued within two weeks after reception of e-mail.
*3: If you have any questions, please contact the instructor of this lecture directly by e-mail.
*4: This lecture is provided only in Japanease.

Tetsuya Kojima
Department of Integrated Biosciences
Laboratory of Innovational Biology
e-mail: tkojima{at} (replace {at} with @ when sending e-mail)