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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

“Life Science A” Embarking on a Journey towards Biochemistry

Ms. Saori Inoue
3rd Year Student of the School of Advanced Science and Engineering

Life Science A is a class that follows that textbook “Essential Cellular Biology” while approaching life phenomena from an atomic and molecular level. This course provides the first opportunity for students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to perform a detailed study of life science. The class is led by Professor Takaki Koide, who conducts research in collagen. Professor is extremely knowledgeable in the field of life science. The class is made enjoyable by Professor Koide's explanations that include both his own personal experiences and details of research being conducted at other universities. The professor also gives explanations while using PowerPoint to show textbooks diagrams and other films. Overall, Professor Koide takes many measures to ensure that his explanations are easy to understand for students.

Professor Koide also has a fondness for gadgets and gizmos. In one class, the professor called for our attention and took a piece of origami paper that had already been folded into the shape of a helmet from samurai armor. “If I unfold this paper, it is just one piece of paper,” said Professor Koide. “However, a variety of different shapes can be created depending on the way in which the paper if folded. The similar event is happening inside protein.” During this explanation, the professor changed the folds of the paper and quickly transformed it into a fish. In the same way, strings of amino acids which appear to be the same are folded differently depending on the array of amino acids. These strings then fulfill different functions within an organism. The example using origami is perfect for illustrating this concept.

In another class, Professor Koide prepared a tube shaped like a long pole. After standing the tube vertically on his desk, the professor released his hand slightly from the tube. When released, the tube threatened to fall either to the left or right. “I don't know whether the tube will fall to the left or right,” said Professor Koide. “However, it will not fall unless I release my hand. In this way, a transition state is an unstable condition in which a reaction may or may not occur.” Thanks to this example, I was able to thoroughly understand that the interior of organisms is supported by the repetition of such unstable chemical reactions.

In the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, once students have completed this Life Science A course, they proceed to gain experience in life science experiments during later terms. The classes of Professor Koide do more than simply follow what is written in textbooks. When taking classes which are rich designed to keep the attention of students, it is only natural for students to develop an interest in experiments and research. Rewarding research is created by a balanced combination of actual experiments and theoretical analysis based on knowledge. This course acts as a bridge between knowledge and experiments and invites students into the constantly changing world of life science.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)