The 24th Keio Medical Science Prize Award Ceremony was held on Thursday, December 19 at the Kitasato Hall on Shinanomachi Campus.
Awarded by the Keio University Medical Science Fund since 1996, the Keio Medical Science Prize recognizes researchers from Japan and overseas who have made outstanding and creative achievements in the fields of medicine and life sciences, and whose contributions are expected to go from strength to strength in the future. It is the only prize of its kind awarded by a Japanese university, with eight recipients having gone on to become Nobel Laureates.
The prize was this year awarded to Professor Hans C. Clevers of the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC; Netherlands) with the research theme of "Wnt signaling and its role in stem cells and organogenesis," and Project Professor Tadamitsu Kishimoto of the Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Center for his research theme, "From the discovery of IL-6 to its applications in medicine." This award recognizes contributions by Professor Clevers such as developing organoid technologies to culture small human organs outside the body, in addition to clarifying the functions and properties of stem cells, which were achieved by studying the mechanisms involved in cell development and differentiation. Professor Kishimoto was responsible for the discovery of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a protein involved in immunity, and, in addition to clarifying its functions, he applied the outcomes of this basic research to drug discovery, with the award recognizing contributions such as the development of therapeutic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and Castleman's Disease.
Professor Hideyuki Okano, Chairperson of the Keio Medical Science Prize Selection Committee and Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine, reported on the stringent review of 157 candidates by the selection committee, which is comprised of members from both within and outside Keio University, to decide on the two recipients of this year’s prize. President Akira Haseyama then gave a congratulatory address after conferring the medals and certificates on Dr. Clevers and Dr. Kishimoto.
Congratulations were also offered by Mr. Yoshitami Kameoka, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan, Mr. Peter van der Vliet. The recipients then took turns at the podium to convey their happiness 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.
Lectures by both recipients followed an address by Professor Masayuki Amagai, Dean of the School of Medicine, at the subsequent commemorative lecture session. 300 people, including distinguished guests, faculty and staff members, and students, listened intently to the lectures, after which a lively question and answer session with the audience unfolded at the capacity-filled venue.