Our goal is to produce serendipity-enabling technologies that will realize "Chance (serendipity) favors the prepared mind" (Louis Pasteur). Specifically, we develop technologies based on molecular imaging and spectroscopy together with nanotechnology, microfluidics, and artificial intelligence, use them to push the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding, and produce global leaders who will shape the future of biology and medicine. The technologies are designed for discovering new biological phenomena, elucidating unknown mechanisms, and exploiting new applications. They are based on an integration of theoretical, experimental, and computational techniques in physics and chemistry combined with molecular cell biology, electrical engineering, computer science, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, applied mathematics, and mechanical engineering. Our global initiative for the development of serendipity-enabling technologies is currently operated at Serendipity Lab. The following is, but not limited to, a list of ongoing research programs.
Image-activated cell sorting
In 2018, we developed a groundbreaking single-cell analysis technology "image-activated cell sorting" that performs real-time image-based intelligent sorting of single live cells with an extremely high throughput of >1000 cells per second. It is capable of identifying how the spatial architecture of molecules within the cell is linked to its physiological function and serves as a bridge between population-level analysis (flow cytometry), cell-level analysis (microscopy), and gene-level analysis (sequencing).
Quantum biology and quantum bioengineering
Recent studies have shown that several biological phenomena such as vision, smell, and photosynthesis cannot be explained by classical physics or chemistry, but seem to take advantage of quantum effects such as coherence, tunneling, and entanglement for higher performance. We aim to develop a set of experimental tools, use them to study these quantum-biological phenomena and identify their underlying mechanisms, and develop quantum bio-inspired technologies by exploiting the mechanisms.
Label-free molecular spectroscopy and imaging
There is a high demand for label-free analysis of intracellular biomolecules in live cells. To this end, Raman spectroscopy is a promising tool as it provides rich molecular information without labeling. We aim at maximizing the capability of coherent Raman spectroscopy in its speed, bandwidth, and sensitivity based on the state-of-the-art optical techniques. We also apply the developed techniques to high-speed cellular imaging and large-scale single-cell analysis for understanding and enhancing cellular functions.
Nanophotonics for biochemical sensing
Group IV semiconductors, such as carbon, silicon, and germanium, provide mature and low-loss material platforms for on-chip nanophotonic devices owing to their CMOS-compatible fabrication conditions and all-dielectric properties. Such on-chip group IV photonic devices give us promising opportunities for realizing on-chip biochemical sensing and spectroscopy with ultrahigh sensitivity. We aim to develop such devices and exploit their biochemical sensing applications such as diabetes detection.
Single-cell analysis with droplet microfluidics
The acquisition of many cellular images or spectra leads to a deeper and more precise understanding of cellular heterogeneity. For this purpose, it is essential to handle tiny and fragile cells with high throughput without causing damage to them. We aim to develop tools for droplet microfluidics which allow us to quickly and gently handle cells by encapsulating them into small droplets and hence to perform single-cell imaging and spectroscopy with high throughput.
Start your own great innovations
History tells us that the greatest discoveries come totally unexpected out of nowhere. While luck seems to play a role, required attributes for preparing "unexpected" events and making "planned" discoveries are curiosity, persistence, flexibility, optimism, and risk taking. We encourage students to come up with their own ideas through brainstorming and discussion with colleagues by providing financial support to student-initiated research projects that might lead to great innovations.
Start your own startup
There is a big wave of university-based startups in Japan today. The Japanese government and venture capitalists currently invest a large amount of money in such startups that come out of research labs at universities in Japan. With this great financial support as well as the University of Tokyo's startup training for researchers, we are interested in promoting students and postdoctoral researchers to start their own tech companies based on thier research achievements in Goda Lab.