Institute of Innovative Research, 
Tokyo Institute of Technology.

2020.06.18

Information

Initiatives for Overcoming Disasters Caused by COVID-19 at the Institute of Innovative Research

Preface

Infectious disease COVID-19, caused by a new type of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), has driven major cities around the world into lockdown, threatens human life, and has led to various social crises. The question of how to counteract the virus with science and technology is truly an urgent research subject matter for universities to address. While the center of the research against viruses lies in pharmaceutical and medical science, there are also plenty of issues that should be dealt with to counter the viral scourge through the integration of different fields and the collaboration of a wide range of science and technology.

"Research Organization for Immediate Response to Social Issues" (tentative name)

The Institute of Innovative Research (IIR) proposes the establishment of a "Research Organization for Social Issues Immediacy" (tentative name) to promote research on important social issues. There will be a short-term focus of one year for applied research and a mid-term plan of about three years for basic research so that the IIR will be able to respond rapidly to social issues, such as disasters caused by COVID-19.

"Research Project for Overcoming Coronavirus Disasters" (tentative name)

"Research Project for Overcoming Coronavirus Disasters" (tentative name) addresses issues related to COVID-19, and is the first concrete research project of the abovementioned "Research Organization for Social Issues Immediacy". The Project was launched on June 5, 2020 with 18 research themes led by the faculty members of IIR (see "Research Themes" below). We are currently seeking collaboration between themes, external funding, and collaboration with companies. Proposals for new research teams are also welcome. Those working on these research themes are not only eligible for support from universities and the institute, but they are also strong candidates for the "WRHI International Joint Research Promotion for Overcoming the Coronavirus Disaster", which is introduced in the next section.
*We have 19 research themes from September 10, 2020.

"WRHI International Joint Research Promotion for Overcoming the Coronavirus Disaster"

Tokyo Tech World Research Hub Initiative (WRHI) has started accepting applications for the "WRHI International Joint Research Promotion for Overcoming the Coronavirus Disaster". A few strict conditions have been imposed to the support program: 1) A principal investigator of the proposal should be affiliated with Tokyo Institute of Technology; 2) The principal investigator must become a joint member of at least one of the four International Research Hubs of WRHI (Information and Artificial Intelligence, Cell Biology, Materials and Devices, and Social Implementation) if the proposal is accepted; 3) At least one overseas collaborator who holds a position of associate professor or higher should be involved in the international research team. The research fund offers support on a yearly basis (FY 2020), where the amount of expenses is 5 million yen or less per project for category A and 1 million yen or less for category B. One to three projects for category A and five to ten for category B are expected to be accepted.

Research Themes

Diagnosis, Antiviral Drugs, and Vaccines: Seven Cases

  • Chemically modified fluorescent immunosensors
  • A diagnostic device for SARS-CoV-2 with a one-dollar/one-minute sample
  • Biological detection methods using MRI/NMR probes
  • Inhibitors for bioactive proteins derived from SARS-CoV-2
  • Innovative RT-PCR method for SARS-CoV-2
  •   Two other cases (to be announced later).

Virus Removal and Inactivation: Six Cases

  • Rapid and non-contact inactivation of coronaviruses with low-temperature plasma
  • Highly structurally controlled porous carbon material and its application to remove toxic substances
  • Examination of highly sanitary DLC coating
  • Antiviral material using borophene
  • An air purification device with large capacity
  • Growth inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2

Medical Devices: Two Cases

  • Magnetically levitated centrifugal blood pumps for ECMO and its multifunctional use
  • Flexible near-infrared image sensors

Work Style Reform: Two Cases

  • Video conferencing service that allows multiple conversations
  • Technology that contributes to the improvement of the telework environment

Future Projections: One Case

  • Observation of social and economic phenomena in the spread of COVID-19 and future predictions based on models

New Normal: One Case

  • Human nature and altruism in a post-corona society