Earth-Life Science Institute Integrated Graduate Course

Latest News: On Jan. 26, we will organize orientation webinars for international students (enrollment in September 2023). Register here!

About ELSI

Founded in 2012, ELSI is an independent research institute based at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Japan's leading science and engineering university. ELSI's ambition is to study the origin and evolution of planets and life as intimately connected inter-dependent systems. We bring together hundreds of world-leading scientists in fields ranging from astrophysics to geology to chemistry and biology to fuse our expertise and tackle the most challenging scientific questions. To learn more, please visit the ELSI home page.

ELSI Graduate Program

Building on a decade of experience recruiting top researchers from around the world to engage in genuinely inter-disciplinary research on origins of planets and life, in 2022 ELSI launched a new integrated 5-year (combined masters and doctorate) graduate program. The program is offered in partnership with the Tokyo Tech Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), Department of Life Science and Technology (LST), and Department of Chemical Science and Engineering (CSE). ELSI will provide financial support to all ELSI graduate course students*. These students and their research efforts are based at ELSI under the mentorship of ELSI faculty (see below). Special emphasis will be placed on exposure to disciplines that span the institute, and students are encouraged to work on projects involving multiple ELSI faculty.

Options for Study at ELSI

Students will be enrolled in one of the following degree programs, in addition to the ELSI course:

  • Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS)

  • Department of Life Science and Technology (LST)

  • Department of Chemical Science and Engineering (CSE)

ELSI Principal Investigators have additional affiliations with these departments, and will act as the students' formal supervisor.

Application Procedure

  • Students should contact ELSI PIs and A-PIs via e-mail. See links to candidate PIs and A-PIs below for contact and other information. Applicants are free to contact multiple PIs and A-PIs.

  • Confirm interest in applying to the graduate program with their intended supervisor (Deadline March 3). Applicants will need to submit a consent letter to the university by the deadline April 3 for enrollment starting in September 2023.

  • Prepare and submit an application for Tokyo Tech IGP-C to the Admissions Division (Deadline April 9 for enrollment starting in September 2023). See for details.

  • As a selection process, an interview will be conducted with ELSI PIs online (late April or early May). After the selection process, applicants will be notified of the decision (May 30).

  • If you have any questions, please contact us via <edu-info [at]> (replace [at] to @).

Application Schedule

Starting Enrollment in September 2023

  • from January 18, 2023: Tokyo Tech IGP-C Application period opens

  • January-March: Contact ELSI PIs/A-PIs

  • March 3: Confirm interest with ELSI PI

  • April 3: Deadline for consent letter submission

  • April 9: Deadline for receipt of IGP-C applications

  • late April or early May: Entrance exam and interview

  • May 30: Notification of selection results

Starting Enrollment in April 2024:

Details will be announced in mid-2023.

ELSI Specific Courses

In addition to core courses required by the degree-granting department in which students will enroll, ELSI will have the following additional integrated courses to be taken in the first 2 years (All in English):

  • Earth-Life Science A (Chemistry) - Why do chemical reactions occur and what controls their kinetics? We will discuss these questions from the viewpoints of geochemistry, electrochemistry, and materials chemistry. In particular, the lecture will focus on fundamental reactions that are essential for understanding the origin of life and are directly related to global energy and environmental issues (e.g., nitrogen and carbon dioxide fixation).

  • Earth-Life Science B (Biology) - The purpose of this class is to provide students with a wide range of fundamental knowledge in life science and related fields (molecular and cell biology, biochemical engineering, population dynamics, bioenergetics, synthetic biology, astrobiology, etc.). This class is also aimed for students who did not have the opportunity to study life science during their undergraduate period. We expect this class to provide basic knowledge towards becoming an interdisciplinary researcher through the Earth-Life Science graduate course.

  • Earth-Life Science C (Planetary Science) - The basic ideas of the surface environments and interior structure of the present-day Earth are explained. Earth's formation/evolution as a planet in the Solar system is also explained via formation models of the Solar system. Solar system explorations and exoplanet observations are also explained.

  • Research development project for Earth-Life Science M (Collaboration with Industry) - Through group exercises with industries in the fields of space science and life science etc, students learn how to set and solve social problems. In addition to acquiring the basic knowledge necessary for group discussions, students will acquire the skills necessary to implement basic science in society.

  • Communicating Earth-Life Science to the World M (Science Communication) - This course aims to empower students to communicate their research effectively with a diverse audience from scientific community, policy makers to the public at large. The course modules will cover five modules of thought: Public Engagement in Science, Tools for Research Communication, Publishing and Grants in Academia, Policy and Development in Science and Society, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. A key aspect is to provide practical skills and knowledge that students can use throughout their careers. We also aim to show students how science can be a force for positive change in the world, with special attention to issues of poverty, hunger, health, environment, sustainability, social justice, diversity, and equal opportunity. Course content will consist of a mixture of lectures, applied activities, and guest speakers.

ELSI Faculty

PIs: Principal Investigators (Primary Supervisors)

Assoc. Prof. Kosuke Fujishima

Field: Astrobiology

Teaching Affiliation: LST


Prof. Hidenori Genda

Field: Planetary Science

Teaching Affiliation: EPS


Prof. John Hernlund

Field: Geodynamics, Planet Evolution

Teaching Affiliation: EPS


Prof. Shigeru Ida

Field: Planet Formation

Teaching Affiliation: EPS


Prof. Tomoaki Matsuura

Field: Biotechnology, Synthetic biology, Biophysics

Teaching Affiliation: LST


Assoc. Prof. Shawn McGlynn

Field: Chemical Origin of Life, Enzyme Evolution, Microbial Biogeochemistry, Cell-cell Interactions

Teaching Affiliation: LST


Prof. Ryuhei Nakamura

Field: Origin of life, Protometabolisms, Bioenergetics, Electrochemistry

Teaching Affiliation: CSE


Video: Nakamura Lab

Prof. Yasuhito Sekine

Field: Planetary Science, Astrobiology, Evolution of Earth and planets

Teaching Affiliation: EPS


Video: Sekine Lab

A-PIs: Associate Principal Investigators (Co-Supervisors**)

Dr. Tony Z. Jia

Field: Prebiotic Chemistry and Origin of Life



Dr. Hiroyuki Kurokawa

Field: Planetary Science


Dr. Liam Longo

Field: Prebiotic Chemistry and Origins of Life


Dr. Naohiro Terasaka

Field: Synthetic Biology, Chemical Biology


Dr. Nathaniel Virgo

Field: Artificial Life and Origins of Life


* The financial support is about JPY 170,000 /month for 5 years, as a research assistant’s salary. Please be also noted that students must pay the enrollment fee (JPY 282,000) and the tuition fee (JPY 317,700 per semester). The tuition fees for the second and subsequent semesters can be waived upon application and approval.

**Principal investigators may directly supervise students while associate principal investigators may co-supervise students with the cooperation of a principal investigator.

***The information on this page is relevant for International students. Japanese students should visit this page for information on how to apply and enroll.