OIST Welcomes Dr. Yohei Yokobayashi

Yohei Yokobayashi joins OIST to lead the new unit on Nucleic Acid Chemistry and Engineering in an effort to understand the applications of chemistry in biological systems.

OIST welcomes its newest Associate Professor Yohei Yokobayashi, who will be leading a new unit on Nucleic Acid Chemistry and Engineering. Yokobayashi is joining OIST from UC Davis where he is currently an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. His primary interest is in understanding nucleic acid chemistry and their applications in chemistry and biological systems.

Prof. Yokobayashi received his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute. After obtaining his degree he became interested in biological systems and pursued this new interest with postdoctoral work at California Institute of Technology. There he started engineering proteins and learning ways to turn genes on and off in the E. coli bacteria by applying a method called directed evolution. What interests Prof. Yokobayashi most is the blend of chemistry and biology in his work. His research at University of California, Davis revolves around the design and engineering of RNA or ribonucleic acid to control cell behavior. RNA composes a family of biological molecules which perform multiple roles within a single cell. Such research can change how cells handle genetic code and regulate their internal activities such as the creation of proteins, with possible applications in gene therapy and biotechnology.

At OIST he plans to expand his research from RNA design and engineering  to other classes of nucleic acids including DNA in an effort to find more applications in both Chemistry and Biology. “I’ve been interested in OIST for a while now” comments Yokobayashi. “It’s a new and different kind of graduate school.” Having graduated from The University of Tokyo with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Chemistry, Prof. Yokobayashi’s enthusiasm for working at OIST comes from recognition of the new kind of open and collaborative atmosphere that OIST represents. “I’m excited about being a part of building a new type of graduate university for Japan.”


By Sean To

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