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.
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The Karolinska Institute honored Ohsumi for “brilliant experiments” in the 1990s on autophagy, the machinery with which cells recycle their content. Disrupted autophagy has been linked to various diseases including Parkinson’s, diabetes, and cancer, the institute said.
Though the concept has been known for more than 50 years, its “fundamental importance in physiology and medicine was only recognized after Yoshinori Ohsumi’s paradigm-shifting research in the 1990s,” Karolinska said in its citation. Ohsumi was born in 1945 in Fukuoka, Japan. He is currently a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
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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. 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. Each prize is worth 8 million kronor ($930,000).