Prof. Hiroyuki Aburatani

We are working to develop systems biology and medicine to understand complex biological systems through a functional genomics approach. High throughput technology and novel algorithms are required for collecting, integrating and visualizing the enormous amount of data on gene expression, protein expression, and protein interactions arising in the wake of the Human Genome Project. Alliance with outside academics and industries will be crucial to the success of the new “systems biology”, i.e., understanding biological systems as more than the sum of their parts.

1. Personal Cancer Genome

Variety of genetic and epigenetic alterations that accumulate in cancer genomes cause activation of oncogenes and inactivation of tumor suppressor genes, and lead to cellular transformation. Next generation sequencing technology has enabled us to obtain individual genomic information at feasible cost and time. Since 2008, my group has participated in International Cancer Genome Consortium and is studying the genomic alterations in liver and pancreas cancer.

2. Epigenomics

Epigenetic processes are essential for packaging and interpreting the genome, are fundamental to normal development and cell differentiation, and are increasingly recognized as being involved in human disease. Epigenetic mechanisms, which include histone modification, positioning of histone variants, nucleosome remodelling, DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs, are considered as ‘cellular memory’. We have applied genomic technologies, such as ChIP-sequencing, to map these epigenetic marks throughout the genomes and to elucidate how these marks are written and read.

3. Translational Research

Functional genomic approaches are applied to identify novel biomarkers for disease diagnostics and therapeutics.