Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
Kasai Structural Physiology Laboratory

Our laboratory uses various imaging techniques to study the brain’s circuit and synaptic mechanisms. Synapses in the cerebrum enable learning, memory, perception, emotion, and their impairment results in mental disorders. We are among the pioneering laboratories that have extensively utilized the two-photon excitation microscope, which can observe cellular and molecular events deep within tissues. Specifically, we have developed two-photon glutamate uncaging method, which enables optical stimulation of individual synapses in vivo. We have revealed that cerebral spine synapses undergo morphological changes in order to adjust their electrochemical connectivity and stabilize long-term memory. Based on these findings, we proposed the structural alterations in dendritic spines underlie learning and memory, which has been accepted by many other laboratories. Our laboratory name "Structural Physiology" represents our research interest in exploring the dynamic foundations of the brain’s physiological functions and brain-related illnesses (1-22).

Recent amazing progress in fluorescent proteins, two-photon microscopy, photodetection, viral gene transduction, and other techniques have allowed researchers to analyze the cognitive functions of the brain. In addition to these techniques, we also use electrophysiology, optogenetics, molecular biology, genetically engineered experimental models, and computer-assisted simulations to understand the meaning of the images. Our laboratory provides an excellent research environment for future leaders in the life sciences. The wide array of scientific techniques available at our laboratory will help researchers find and develop their own research strategies.


Dr. Takahashi, one of the subgroup leaders of our laboratory, has been investigating insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, which plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus. Her research group recently developed a fluorescence method for directly determining the functions of soluble N-ethylmaleimide?sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) molecules, which modulate the channel gating of insulin secretory vesicles. In ongoing research, fluorescence probing of SNARE molecules is being used to study the functions of the presynaptic terminal (2,5,7,18).

The Lab is currently recruiting graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, limited-term academic staff members, and collaborators.

Financial support will be available for qualified graduate students.

The general procedure for application

If you are interested in our work or have any questions about the Lab, please contact us at:

Joint Research Activities

The Kasai Laboratory is currently affiliated with the four projects and initiatives listed below, and is willing to expand its research areas and activities. If you are interested in starting a joint project, please feel free to contact us.

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