Japanese scientist wins Nobel Prize in medicine
STOCKHOLM: Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries related to the degrading and recycling of cellular components.
Ohsumi, born in 1945 in Fukuoka, Japan, has been a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology since 2009.
“I am extremely honoured,” he told Japanese media.
In 2012, Ohsumi won the Kyoto Prize, Japan’s highest private award for global achievement. Nobel committee secretary Thomas Perlmann said Ohsumi seemed surprised when he was informed he had won the Nobel Prize.
“Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said in a statement on awarding the prize of 8 million Swedish crowns ($933,000).
Ohsumi’s work on cell breakdown, a field known as autophagy, is important because it can help explain what goes wrong in a range of diseases.
“Mutations in autophagy (‘self eating’) genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease,” the statement said.
It was the 107th award in the medicine category since the first Nobel Prizes were handed out in 1905. Last year’s prize was shared by three scientists who developed treatments for malaria and other tropical diseases.
Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.
This year, the Karolinska Institute, the institution that awards the medicine prize, has been immersed in a scandal over the hiring of a controversial surgeon. The Swedish government dismissed several members of the board in September.
The announcements continue with physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The economics and literature awards will be announced next week.
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