Tokyo Tech News

Tokyo Institute of Technology Professor honored with the Kyoto Prize


Published: February 1, 2013

©Inamori Foundation 2012
Prof. Yoshinori Ohsumi (center) with Dr. Ivan Edward Sutherland (left) and Prof. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (right), who also received awards

The Inamori Foundation's 28th Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony was held on November 10, 2012 at the Kyoto International Conference Center. The Kyoto Prize is an annual international award presented to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind. This year Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi of the Frontier Research Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology, won the Kyoto Prize in the Basic Sciences category.

The award represents a tremendous validation of Professor Ohsumi's contributions to the clarification of the molecular mechanisms and physiological functions of autophagy - the self-cannibalization of cells. He was the first person in the world to visually observe the function of autophagy, whereby cells placed in a state of starvation degrade parts of themselves to serve as nutrient sources and so stave off starvation. He subsequently elucidated the mechanism of autophagy and the genes involved in the process.


An interview with Professor Ohsumi is available on the Tokyo Tech website:

(This article previously appeared in "Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin")