The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018
Born: 27 January 1942, Kyoto, Japan
Affiliation at the time of the award: Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Prize motivation: “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”
Prize share: 1/2
Tasuku Honjo was born in Kyoto, Japan. He studied medicine at Kyoto University and received his PhD there in 1975. During the 1970s he also worked in the United States at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington, DC, and at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, with which he also was later associated as a visiting research fellow. In Japan he has worked at Tokyo University, Osaka University and Kyoto University, where he has been a professor since 1984.
Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells Tasuku Honjo and James Allison have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy. In 1992, Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and, after careful exploration of its function, eventually revealed that it operates as a brake on the immune system. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.