Life & Natural Science Fusion

Our workgroup is extremely interdisciplinary, involving researchers from clinical medicine, developmental/cell biology, chemistry/biochemistry, theoretical/experimental physics, material science, and mechanical engineering. The ultimate goal of our workgroup is to unravel principles of life by collaborative efforts c of researchers across the borders between different disciplines.

Enormous efforts of our consortium members towards this ambitious goal have been sustained through 3 past meetings, always stimulating discussions with new members to create new contacts. One of the cores of our consortium is a very tight connection between iCeMS (Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences) in Kyoto and Collaborative Research Center SFB873 (Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Diseases) in Heidelberg. This center-to-center partnership was established in 2010 between Prof. Anthony Ho (Heidelberg) and Prof. Norio Nakatsuji (Kyoto), and we had extremely successful exchange of people between two centers, such as hosting and sending graduate students and junior researchers. One of the most remarkable achievements was the Heidelberg-Kyoto Symposium that iCeMS and SFB873 jointly organized in Heidelberg in the Year 2011.

In 2012, Prof. Motomu Tanaka and Prof. Thomas Holstein organized the first HeKKSaGOn Summer School "Crossing Borders: Unraveling Principles of Life with Quantitative Tools". A number of workgroup members contributed by giving lectures, hosting students to their institutes and interacting with them in an active manner. The members of other workgroups, such as Prof. Harald Fuess (transcultural studies), Prof. Izumi Takagi (mathematics) and Prof. Ana Marciniak-Czochra (mathematics), also gave stimulating lectures.

In 2013, the cross-appointment of Prof. Tanaka at iCeMS was accepted by Rector Eitel, which further strengthens our tight partnership. In 2014, two collaborative projects by the workgroup members from Kyoto, heidelberg, KIT, and Osaka have been approved by the "SPIRITS" Programme of Kyoto University. Through the JSPS invitation programme, Prof. Martin Bastmeyer (KIT) is going to spend two months sabbatical at iCeMS, hosted by Prof. Tanaka.

Last but not least, Prof. Motomu Tanaka was recently selected as a recipient of the prestigious Phillip Franz von Siebold Prize, which is awarded to scientists who promoted academic exchange between Japan and Germany. This will further increase the visibility of our consortium and strengthen our partnership.

  • Anthony D. Ho, Heidelberg, Professor (medicine, stem cell biology)
  • Thomas Holstein, Heidelberg, Professor (developmental biology)
  • Jochen Wittbrodt, Heidelberg, Professor (developmental biolog)
  • Motomu Tanaka, Heidelberg (Kyoto), Professor (physics)
  • Norio Nakatsuji, Kyoto, Professor (stem cell biology)
  • Susumu Kitagawa, Kyoto, Professor (chemistry)
  • Hiroshi Sugiyama, Professor (chemistry)
  • Mineko Kengaku, Kyoto, Professor (neurobiology)
  • Kenichi Yoshikawa, Kyoto, Professor (physics)
  • Takao Ohta, Kyoto, Professor (physics)
  • Martin Bastmeyer, KIT, Professor (neurobiology)
  • Christoph Wöll, KIT, Professor (chemistry)
  • Doris Wedlich, KIT, Professor (developmental biology)
  • Stefan Giselbrecht, KIT, Group Leader (device engineering)
  • Masaaki Sato, Tohoku, Professor (cell biology)
  • Kensaku Mizuno, Tohoku, Professor (cell biology)
  • Tomoyuki Yamaya, Tohoku, Professor (plant biology)
  • Masayuki Imai, Tohoku, Professor (physics)
  • Akihiko Ishijima, Tohoku, Professor (biophysics)
  • Ulf Diderichsen, Göttingen, Professor (chemistry)
  • Christoph Schmidt, Göttingen, Professor (physics)
  • Akira Harada, Osaka, Professor (chemistry)
  • Toshio Yanagida, Osaka, Professor (biophysics)
  • Makoto Kaneko, Osaka, Professor (mechanical engineering)
  • Tatsuo Arai, Osaka, Professor (mechanical engineering)
  • Tatsuaki Tsuruyama, Professor (medicine, pathology)
  • Toshihiko Ogura, Tohoku, Professor (medicine)
  • Shinjiro Yamaguchi, Tohoku, Professor (biology)
  • Takuji Ishikawa, Tohoku, Professor (engineering)
  • Kazumasa Ohashi, Tohoku, Professor (biology)
Project abstract: 

This working group aims to create a new research area in biomedical science tackling important issues in medicine by seamlessly connecting molecular engineering, advanced bioimaging, and mathematical modeling. We set a clear focus on tackling “clinically relevant problems in medicine”, although this is a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers holding track records in different fields.

The lead coordinator, M. Tanaka (Heidelberg and Kyoto), has been actively promoting collaboration with medical researchers in Heidelberg and Kyoto. He will take a lead to facilitate cross-institutional, interdisciplinary discussion with Hiroshi Seno (Kyoto), representing clinical medicine. Hiroshi Suito (deputy director of AIMR, Tohoku) also has long-lasting collaboration with researchers in clinical medicine, representing the modeling domain with K. Svadlenka (Kyoto) and other junior colleagues. Martin Bastmeyer (KIT) utilizes his experiences as spokesperson for Biomedical Photonics of the Karlsruhe School for Optics&Photonics (KSOP) and will represent the bio-imaging domain by the active involvement of the junior colleagues. From clinical medicine, we recuited Hiroshi Seno (Gastroenterology) and junior faculties from respiratory medicine and other fields. The molecular engineering aspect is strengthened by four members holding complementary expertise; Christof Wöll (KIT, engineering of surface/interface), Yoshinori Takashima (Osaka, engineering of polymer), Eva Blasco (Heidelberg, engineering of biofunctional molecules), and Fuyuhiko Tamanoi (Kyoto, nanomaterials).

Our strategy is to utilize the existing center projects (collaborative research center, priority program, excellence cluster, etc.) to promote new collaboration, such as bilateral projects, exchange of junior researchers and graduate students, international winter schools, etc. The coordinators and core members share common visions to develop our cooperation in a focused subject.  

Lead coordinator: 

Name: Motomu Tanaka
Position: Professor
Institution: Heidelberg University
Department, Faculty: Physical Chemistry Institute, Faculty of Chemistry and Geosciences

Other coordinators:

Name: Hiroshi Suito
Position: Professor
Institution: Tohoku University
Department, Faculty: Advanced Institute for Materials Research

Name: Martin Bastmeyer 
Position: Professor
Institution: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Department, Faculty: Zoological Institute, Faculty of Chemistry and Biosciences

  • Bernhardt, M., M. Galach, D. Novak, and J. Utikal, Mediators of induced pluripotency and their role in cancer cells – current scientific knowledge and future perspectives. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 810-821.
  • Erdmann, G., C. Volz, and M. Boutros, Systematic approaches to dissect biological processes in stem cells by image-based screening. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 768-778.
  • Hippler, M., Weißenbruch, K., Richler, K., Lemma, E. D., Nakahata, M., Richter, B., Barner-Kowollik, C., Takashima, Y., Harada, A., Blasco, E., Wegener, M., Tanaka, M., and Bastmeyer, M., Mechanical stimulation of single cells by reversible host-guest interactions in 3D microscaffolds., C. Volz, and M. Boutros, Systematic approaches to dissect biological processes in stem cells by image-based screening. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 768-778.
  • Ho, A. and N. Nakatsuji, Editorial: “Crossing Boundaries: Stem Cells, Materials, and Mesoscopic Sciences”. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 694-695.
  • Hoang, V.T., A. Zepeda-Moreno, and A.D. Ho, Identification of leukemia stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia and their clinical relevance. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6):p. 779-788.
  • Kalay, Z., Reaction kinetics in the plasma membrane. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 745-752.
  • Mochiduki, Y. and K. Okita, Methods for iPS cell generation for basic research and clinical applications. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 789-797.
  • Murakami, T., Phospholipid nanodisc engineering for drug delivery systems. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 762-767.
  • Pandian, G.N. and H. Sugiyama, Programmable genetic switches to control transcriptional machinery of pluripotency. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 798-809.
  • Papagiannouli, F. and I. Lohmann, Shaping the niche: Lessons from the Drosophila testis and other model systems. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 723-736.
  • Somorjai, I.M.L., J.U. Lohmann, T.W. Holstein, and Z. Zhao, Stem cells: A view from the roots. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 704-722.
  • Suzuki, K.G.N., Lipid rafts generate digital-like signal transduction in cell plasma membranes. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 753-761.
  • Wennekamp, S. and T. Hiiragi, Stochastic processes in the development of pluripotency in vivo. Biotechnology Journal, 2012. 7(6): p. 737-744.
  • M. Veschgini, F. Gebert, N. Khangai, H. Ito, R. Suzuki, T. Holstein (Heidelberg, biology), Y. Mae, T. Arai (Osaka, robotics), and M. Tanaka* (Heidelberg/Kyoto, physics), Tracking mechanical and morphological dynamics of regenerating Hydra tissue fragments using a two fingered micro-robotic hand, Appl. Phys. Lett. 108, 103702 (2016).
  • 5th Japanese-German University Presidents' Conference, September 29-30, 2016, Karlsruhe
  • SPIRITS Symposium "Bio-Inspired, Non-Biological Mesoscale Hybrids", Feb 23, 2016, iCeMS, Kyoto Univ.
  • Heidelberg-Kyoto Stem Cell Research Network Meeting (2), Feb 19, 2016, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences (IFMS), Kyoto Univ.
  • Heidelberg-Kyoto Stem Cell Research Network Meeting (1), Feb 18, 2016, iCeMS, Kyoto Univ.
  • Kyoto Winter School "From Materials to Life: Multidisciplinary Challenges", Feb 15 - 26, 2016, Kyoto Univ.
  • iCeMS International Symposium "Hierarchical Dynamics in Soft and Biological Matter External Link" (iHD S&BM), Sept. 23 - 26, Kyoto Univ.
  • HeKKSaGOn Pre-Symposium "Mechano-Biology External Link", April 16, FRIS Tohoku Univ.
  • 4th Presidential Conference HeKKSaGOn "Building venues for the creation of new knowledge and values", April 2015, Tohoku University, Sendai
  • SPIRITS Symposium " Principles of Hydra's Immortality Using Smart Materials and Microdevices", March 2014 (Organizer: Prof. Dr. Motomu Tanaka)
  • SPIRITS Symposium "Novel, Integrated Clinicopathologic Diagnosis of Cancer based on Physical Readouts", March 2014 (Organizers: Prof. Dr. Tatsuaki Tsuruyama, Kyoto University and Prof. Dr. Motomu Tanaka)
  • "Unraveling Dynamics of Life with Quantitative Tools" Japanese-German Symposium within the Framework of "German Science Days 2013", October 2013, Kyoto (Organizer: Prof. Dr. Motomu Tanaka, University of Heidelberg)
  • Japanese-French-German Workshop "Physics of Active Soft Matter", September 2012, Heidelberg (Organizer: Prof. Dr. Motomu Tanaka)
  • "Crossing Borders: Unraveling Principles of Life with Quantitative Tools" First HeKKSaGOn Summer School, September 2012, Heidelberg (Academic Coordinators:Prof. Dr. Motomu Tanaka and Prof. Dr. Thomas Holstein, University of Heidelberg)
  • Heidelberg-Kyoto Symposium, July 2011, Heidelberg (Organizers: Prof. Dr. Norio Nakatsuji, Kyoto University and Prof. Dr. Anthony D. Ho, University of Heidelberg)