Born: 9 February 1945, Fukuoka, Japan
Affiliation at the time of the award: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan
Prize motivation: "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy"
Prize share: 1/1
Yoshinori Ohsumi was born in Fukuoka, Japan. He studied at the University of Tokyo where he received his doctoral degree in 1974. After a few years at Rockefeller University, New York, he returned to the University of Tokyo. In 1996 he moved to the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki. He has also been affiliated to the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai) in Hayama and to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he is now working. Yoshinori Ohsumi is married to Mariko Ohsumi who is also one of his scientific collaborators.
In the lysosomes of our cells its components are processed for reuse. The mechanisms of this process were mostly unknown until the early 1990s, when Yoshinori Ohsumi conducted a series of groundbreaking experiments with yeast, where he detected autophagy and identified genes important for the process. Yoshinori Ohsumi's discoveries laid the foundation for a better understanding of the ability of cells to manage malnutrition and infections, the causes of certain hereditary and neurological diseases, and cancer.