Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences
Tohoku University

FRIS Interviews #08

FRIS Interviews#08

  • 郭 媛元Yuanyuan Guo

    バイオエレクトロニクス、グリア・ニューロン相互作用Bioelectronics, glia-neuron interaction

Embracing opportunities and challenges in a fulfilling and stimulating research environment

What is the reason why you chose FRIS?

FRIS creats the unique research environment with unconventionally bounded freedom and fosters the young minds with full independence.
It seemed to be an ideal environment for me since I’m conducting cross-disciplinary research.

In my junior year in college, I joined the exchange program to study in Tohoku University where I got the first-hand experience in laboratory experiments as well as received professional training and mentoring from my advisor, Professor Tatsuo Yoshinobu. Then after getting my bachelor degree, I returned to Tohoku University to pursue my graduate studies. I obtained a master’s degree in electronic engineering and later a PhD degree in biomedical engineering. During my graduate studies, I have also studied at MIT and Virginia Tech. Currently conducting cross-disciplinary research between biology and engineering, I’m developing devices that can monitor and manipulate brain activities simultaneously, in order to understand fundamental cerebral functions and to further elucidate the causes of pathological brain conditions. FRIS - where I conduct these cross-disciplinary researches build up the platform for young researchers to fulfill their curiosity towards their research interests and offers sufficient support to be an independent investigator without being bounded to a conventionally-defined laboratory. I can, therefore, establish my research area based on my own interests decisions.

Please tell us about your current research.

Multimodal devices based on special fibers and sensors to investigate brain activities.

The beauty of biology can be deeply appreciated and discovered with a keen mind, which can be sharpened by the technological innovations. Such innovations rely on the synergy of the diverse and intellectually distant areas of conventional disciplines in both science and engineering. My research falls withinin such synergic effort, the overall motivation of my work is to develop innovative technologies to interface with biological systems across complexity of signaling modalities with high biocompatibility and minimal invasiveness.
I am developing multimodal devices which incorporate functions such as electrodes, optical waveguides, microchannels, biosensors, etc. in a single thin fiber by using a thermal drawing process commonly used to elaborate optical fibers . These various fiber probes are freely provided to many research groups, and we are collaborating extensively on device development, biological application and further commercialization. In addition, using the developed devices, I would like to tackle current issues in biology that could not be resolved with conventional technologies, particularly in the field of brain science. Possible applications of my work could help persons with cerebropathy. For instance, direct deployment of such multimodal devices may offer a new therapeutic strategy for patients with Parkinson's disease or an alternative diagnosis means for depression or other brain disorders.
郭 媛元Yuanyuan Guo

Assistant professor, Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences
I am from China. In 2017, I got my PhD degree in biomedical engineering with support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, then I joined the FRIS in 2018. My primary research interests lay in the development of multimodal devices based on sensors and fibers, with the aim to address fundamental questions in biology, particularly the brain.

Please tell us about the features and attractiveness of FRIS.

FRIS position allows young researchers to conduct independent and innovative research in an inspiring interdisciplinary environment

FRIS has a vision to break through the wall of the conventional fields and disciplines to take action against social problems. Since the autonomy of young researchers is respected and encouraged, we benefit from an environment where we can work independently on what we want to do. I feel that exchanges with researchers in other disciplines and fields are stimulating and have great potential for development of innovative research ideas.

What has become possible because you are in FRIS?

FRIS is an environment where collaborative research is highly encouraged and opinions are freely exchanged.

In FRIS, researchers work in various fields and events such as exchange meetings or presentations are held regularly to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations. Thanks to these meetings, I have been introduced to other researchers topics. For example, I am conducting collaborative research on high molecular polymer with assistant professor Chrystelle Bernard who is a materials scientist from FRIS . I also provide various multifunction fibers that I am currently developing to several researchers inside and outside the university, promoting collaborative research on biological application and commercialization.

What kind of person do you think can be active in FRIS?

Fully independent young minds with passion and ambition

I think that FRIS is an environment where ambitious young researchers who want to develop their own ideas can focus on their research and develop their potential. It is also a place for motivated young researchers wanting to benefit from a rich multidisciplinary environment.

What is the reason why you recommend FRIS?

Research carried out here may make the impossible to possible.

The long-term vision for the future perspectives might be difficult, say in terms for the next five, ten or 30 years but I think that research conducted in FRIS will contribute to a improve this future. Working here also made me realize that the interdisciplinary approach raises the motivation of researchers and further stimulates intellectual curiosity.

How is your life and environment in Sendai?

Sendai is the place that has witnessed both my personal and professional development over my 20s.

I think Sendai is a pleasant place to live in with both beautiful mountains and seas located within accessible range. I like Sendai the best so far among the cities that I have lived. Also, the outdoors became my hobby and the Tohoku area is my playground: I often enjoy going out camping, hiking or skiing together with friends around Sendai. Life-wise, to continue enjoying this nice environment, I try my best to work hard as a FRIS member and deliver results.