Message from the Program Director
Research in the life sciences have been developing by leaps and bounds. This research has long centered on genes and proteins and their corresponding properties and functions. The expectation was that these studies would significantly advance our understanding of what causes abnormalities or diseases and guide us towards new medicines and related therapies. While true, scientists are realizing a much more comprehensive approach is needed for us to take our understanding to the next level. For genes and proteins to create living organisms, be it a simple cell or complex person, they must interact in dynamic ways. In other words, biology is the result of dynamic systems: molecules dynamically interact to build cells; cells dynamically interact to build tissues; and tissues dynamically interact to build living beings.. Therefore, to fully explore life, research needs to analyze the complex networks at these different hierarchies. Such analysis is already beginning from innovative measurement technologies, which have provided large quantities of data of previously unobservable phenomena.
However, these data bring a number of new challenges. Understanding the molecular dynamics that regulate the cell, for example, requires consideration of an incredibly large network containing massive amounts of data. The challenge is to process these data so that we can predict and even manipulate how a cell behaves. Such abilities will essential for understanding diseases, as rarely does an abnormal gene or cell directly cause pathology. Instead, it is abnormal dynamics between molecules and cells that leads to the disease. Massive computing power is therefore essential, and we have it through the K computer, which can perform 1016 arithmetic operations per second. Such powerful supercomputing should help us aggregate the different scales of biological systems, from molecules and cells to tissues and individuals, and provide new insights on the dynamics.
These studies are revealing that the complexity of biological systems is too great such that it is practically impossible for even the system itself to function. For example, no cell is capable of processing all the potential molecular interactions occurring inside of it. Instead, biological systems must have some innate mechanism that reduces the degrees of freedom to make these dynamics more manageable. Understanding this mechanism is the challenge of Strategic Programs for Innovative Research Field 1 “Supercomputational Life Science (SCLS)”. We are bringing together experimentalists and theoreticians to develop new techniques that will allow us to uncover the secrets that regulate the dynamics of biological systems. The work done at our center will require ambitious and innovative minds that seek to build new pathways to scientific discovery.
HPCI Program for Computational Life Sciences Program Director
Profile of Program Director
- Toshio Yanagida
- Hyogo Prefecture
- Birth date
- October 10, 1946
- Osaka University
- Director, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences
Vice Director, Immunology Frontier Research Center
- National Institute of Information and Communications Technology/Osaka University
- Director, Center for Information and Neural Networks
- Director, Quantitative Biology Center