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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 64-65

Nobel prize in physiology or medicine 2016

Senior Resident, Department of Medicine, MGIMS, Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2017

Correspondence Address:
Gunjan Dalal
Senior Resident, Department of Medicine, MGIMS, Wardha, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmgims.jmgims_12_17

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How to cite this article:
Dalal G. Nobel prize in physiology or medicine 2016. J Mahatma Gandhi Inst Med Sci 2017;22:64-5

How to cite this URL:
Dalal G. Nobel prize in physiology or medicine 2016. J Mahatma Gandhi Inst Med Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Mar 30];22:64-5. Available from: https://www.jmgims.co.in/text.asp?2017/22/1/64/201999

The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 2016 was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.”

Ohsumi, born on February 9, 1945, in Fukuoka, Japan received B. Sc., in 1967 and D. Sc., in 1974, both from the University of Tokyo. He continued as a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University in New York City from 1974 to 1977.

He then was appointed as a research associate in the University of Tokyo in 1977 and then a Lecturer there in 1986, and promoted to Associate Professor in 1988. In 1996, he moved to the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki City, Japan, where he was appointed as a professor. From 2004 to 2009, he was also a professor at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Hayama, Japan. In 2009, he quasi-purposed to a three-way appointment as an emeritus professor at the National Institute for Basic Biology and at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, and a professorship at the Advanced Research Organization, Integrated Research Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology. He then retired in 2014 and continued to serve as a professor at Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology. Currently, he heads the Cell Biology Research Unit, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology.

  Awards and Achievements Top

  • Kyoto Prize in basic sciences in 2012 (Outstanding Contribution to Elucidating the Molecular Mechanisms and Physiological Significance of autophagy)
  • Nobel Prize for physiology/medicine in 2016
  • Breakthrough prize in life sciences in 2017(for elucidation of autophagy).

  Autophagy Top

The term “autophagy” was coined in 1963. The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning “self,” and phagein, meaning “to eat.” This concept emerged when researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in membranes (isolation membrane), forming sack-like vesicles that were transported to a recycling compartment, called the lysosome, for degradation. Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990's, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker's yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in our cells [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Autophagy

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During the same time, Ohsumi's group described the morphology of autophagy in yeast and performed mutational screening on yeast cells that identified essential genes for cells to be capable of autophagy.

  Role of Autophagy in Other Diseases Top

Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer, neurological diseases such as  Parkinsonism More Details, type II diabetes mellitus.

In 2016, he becomes the 25th Japanese person to win a Nobel Prize. Ohsumi's spouse Mariko, a Professor of Teikyo University of Science, collaborated on his research. She is a coauthor of many academic papers with him.


  [Figure 1]


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