The 23rd Keio Medical Science Prize Award Ceremony was held on Tuesday, December 18 at the Kitasato Hall on Shinanomachi Campus.
The Keio Medical Science Prize is awarded to researchers from Japan and overseas who have made outstanding and creative achievements in the fields of medicine and life sciences, and from whom significant activity can be expected in the future. Awarded by the Keio University Medical Science Fund since 1996, it is the only prize of its kind awarded by a Japanese university. Eight recipients have gone on to become Nobel Laureates.
This year’s recipients were Dr. Feng Zhang, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), for his research on the development of the CRISPR/Cas system for mammalian genome editing and its application to medical research, and Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, Director of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS) at the University of Tsukuba, for his research on the clarification of sleep regulation mechanisms and its application to drug development.
The proceedings began with a performance by the Keio University Wagner Society Orchestra which set a relaxed tone for the subsequent award ceremony. Chairperson of the Keio Medical Science Prize Selection Committee and Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine, Professor Hideyuki Okano reported on the stringent review of a large number of researchers by the selection committee, which is comprised of members from both within and outside Keio University, to decide this year’s recipients. President Akira Haseyama then gave a congratulatory address after conferring the medals and certificates on Dr. Zhang and Dr. Yanagisawa.
Felicitations were also offered by Mr. Hiroyuki Nakamura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Mr. Joseph M. Young, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Japan. The recipients then took turns at the podium to express their jubilation at receiving the award. They spoke of their research thus far, thanked all those involved, and expressed their enthusiasm and commitment to continue their work into the future. The ceremony was brought to a close with a huge round of applause from the members of the audience.
Professor Masayuki Amagai, Dean of the School of Medicine, opened the commemorative lecture session that followed, where both award recipients gave humorous talks to share their passion for science and the future prospects of their research outcomes. A record number of 400 people including distinguished guests, faculty and staff members, and students listened intently to the lectures, after which a lively question and answer session took place. A live feed of the talks was also shown at a satellite venue.