Yoshinori Ohsumi’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in the Stockholm City Hall, 10 December 2016.
Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to thank to the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute and Nobel Foundation for awarding me the most prestigious prize in science, the Nobel Prize, in the category of Physiology or Medicine. I’d also like to congratulate this year’s other recipients. It has been lovely meeting everyone during this very enjoyable week and it is an honour to stand among such esteemed people.
I am just a basic cell biologist who has been working with yeast for almost 40 years. I would like to take this opportunity to note my appreciation for the many lessons and wonderful gifts from yeast – perhaps my favourite of all being sake and liquor.
My research career focussed on autophagy, which is a major process of recycling and degradation of proteins within cells. Life is maintained by a delicate balance between continuous synthesis and degradation. I found that degradation is just as important as synthesis for the maintenance of dynamic biological systems like the body.
My group’s contribution was to find the molecular underpinnings of autophagy. Autophagy is now exploding into one of the most intensely studied topics in biology. While our contribution is fundamental, it is pleasing that many researchers are now studying its relevance in health and trying to conquer a range of diseases. There is no greater satisfaction as a scientist than seeing your ideas and efforts transform a field of research, and I am as happy as I could be. I will finish by acknowledging the fortune, large number of excellent collaborators, indispensable grant support and caring family that brought me here tonight. Thank you again all for this wonderful opportunity.