Tokyo Tech News
February 8, 2016
Honorary Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi, of Tokyo Institute of Technology Frontier Research Center, has been selected as a Person of Cultural Merit for 2015. The Person of Cultural Merit is awarded to persons to celebrate their significant contribution to the progress and development of culture.
Honorary Professor Ohsumi contributed greatly to the understanding of cell biology, specifically autophagy— the process of "self-eating," in which cells cause their proteins to degrade in response to factors like the nutritional environment. The proteins unravel, sparking an array of physiological consequences. As a leader of this field, he is considered a cutting-edge researcher in the life sciences.
I am truly grateful to have been honored as a Person of Cultural Merit. I have been consistent in following the path of fundamental research, the goal of which is full of uncertainty. Through the study of vacuoles of yeast cells, I was able to better understand autophagy, the degradation of proteins inside a cell. I feel very fortunate that I was able to take the time to thoroughly investigate such a profound question, of which the whole picture remains utterly unknown. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has been a support to my research, and to all my excellent collaborators who shared with me in day-to-day research. I wholeheartedly wish that the next generation of youths will take on the remaining challenges so that it can be extended to conquer sickness, for example. I would also like to do what I can to create such an environment.