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The 19th Keio Medical Science Prize Award Ceremony

Update:Dec. 08, 2014

The 19th Keio Medical Science Prize Award Ceremony was held on November 27, 2014 at Kitasato Hall inside Kitasato Memorial Library on Shinanomachi Campus.

The Keio Medical Science Prize is awarded to researchers who have made outstanding and creative achievements in the fields of medical and life sciences, and from whom significant activity can be expected in the future, regardless of their nationality. Awarded by the Keio University Medical Science Fund since 1996, it is the only prize of its kind awarded by a Japanese university. Six prize laureates have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

This year’s recipients were Dr. Karl Deisseroth, Professor at Stanford University and researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for his research into the realization of optogenetics and elucidation of brain function at the neuronal network level, and Dr. Hiroshi Hamada, Professor at the Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, for his research on molecular and cellular mechanisms of left-right asymmetry.

After a performance by the Keio University School of Medicine Orchestra, the stage was set for the award ceremony. Prof. Hideyuki Okano, Chairman of the Keio Medical Science Prize Selection Committee, reported on the rigorous debate on this year’s selection by the review committee, which has members from both within and outside Keio University, and gave an introduction of the two recipients. Then, President Atsushi Seike conferred medals and certificates on Dr. Deisseroth and Dr. Hamada before giving a congratulatory address. Shinichi Yamanaka, Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Ms. Kimberly S. Barr, Deputy Unit Chief of Environment, Science, Technology and Health Affairs, Economic and Science Section, Embassy of the United States to Japan, also gave their felicitations, and finally, the prizewinners took the podium to address the audience.

Dr. Deisseroth spoke about the sequence of events that led to the unexpected discovery of optogenetics and his wish to further develop his research that can alleviate the suffering of patients and give them hope. Dr. Hamada showed gratitude that the results of the research that he, by chance, began 20 years ago, is due to the ideas and contributions of young researchers, and he hopes that interested young researchers will carry on his work. There was a big round of applause from the audience as the ceremony came to a close.

At the Commemorative Lectures that followed, Prof. Makoto Suematsu, Dean of the School of Medicine, gave a small speech. He reminded the audience that this year the Keio Medical Science Prize falls on the 100th year since the birth of the late Dr. Mitsunada Sakaguchi who made the Keio University Medical Science Fund possible, and that as Keio looks ahead to the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the School of Medicine in 2017, Keio will continue respecting history while inviting progress and change. The lectures by both prizewinners followed, and the 250 visitors in attendance, including invited guests, Keio faculty and staff members, and students listened intently and participated in a lively question and answer session.

Dr. Karl Deisseroth
Dr. Karl Deisseroth
Dr. Hiroshi Hamada
Dr. Hiroshi Hamada

A commemorative photograph after the award ceremony
A commemorative photograph after the award ceremony
Dr. Deisseroth giving his commemorative lecture
Dr. Deisseroth giving his commemorative lecture

Photo: Susumu Ishito