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Yoshinori Ohsumi, Ph.D., Receives 2016 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

June 9, 2016
Johnson & Johnson presented cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi, Ph.D., of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, with the 2016 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research for his discoveries in autophagy, spanning 27 years. Autophagy, a cell’s “self-eating” mechanism, is necessary for not only recycling nutrients, but for eliminating harmful proteins, organelles and even invasive bacteria.

Dr. Ohsumi was honored today during a ceremony at the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco. The award was named for Dr. Paul Janssen, who contributed to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines.

“It’s a great honor for me to be selected as a recipient of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award this year,” said Dr. Ohsumi in a video of his acceptance comments.

Dr. Ohsumi further stated, when he first observed autophagy processes in yeast cells, the scientific community barely paid attention to the field.

Fast forward 27 years, and the process he discovered in yeast turned out to be fundamental for understanding health and various types of diseases.

Dr. Ohsumi’s discoveries inspired subsequent studies that suggest autophagy is also important for protection against a wide range of conditions, including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and infectious diseases.

However, research on the molecular basis of autophagy is still in its early days, said Dr. Ohsumi. He called for other scientists to build upon his work.

“Many problems remain to be unveiled. I hope our efforts contribute to a better understanding of the cell,” he concluded in video remarks.

The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research recognizes scientists who are working to improve human health, said Seema Kumar of the J&J Innovation Center. Winners are chosen by an independent selection committee of the world’s most renowned scientists.

Tweet #DPJaward to congratulate Dr. Ohsumi.