Earth-Life Science Institute Integrated Graduate Course

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Orientation webinars (April 2025 intake) will be held on 24 July 2024. Please visit and 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:

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

Application Procedure

Application Schedule

Starting Enrollment in Spring 2025:

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). Please see the guide (FY2023 version) for more details.

Tuition and Scholarships

It is  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 potentially be waived upon application and approval (however, not guaranteed).

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. Ryuhei Nakamura

Field: Origin of life, Protometabolisms, Bioenergetics, Electrochemistry 

Teaching Affiliation: CSE 


Video: Nakamura Lab

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. 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

Website: Google Scholar


Dr. Yamei Li

Field: Abiotic chemical evolution of Solar System bodies, Mineral catalysis, Geo-electrochemistry


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

Website: Google Scholar

Dr. Takanori Kodama

Field: Planetary Climate, Habitability

Website: Google Scholar

Dr. Harrison B. Smith

Field: Complex systems

Website: Google Scholar

Dr. Tetsuhiro Hatakeyama

Field: Systems biology, Biophysics, Universal biology, Complex systems

Website: Google Scholar

* The financial support is about JPY 170,000 /month for 5 years, as a research assistant’s salary.

**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.