THE KEIO MEDICAL SCIENCE PRIZE
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Victor R. Ambros, Ph.D.

The 2013 Keio Medical Science Prize Awardees

Victor R. Ambros, Ph.D.

Silverman Professor of Natural Science
Program in Molecular Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Reason for Selection and His Major Achievement:

Discovery of microRNAs as a new class of gene regulators

Dr. Victor R. Ambros first discovered microRNAs (miRNAs) in 1993 using molecular genetics of C. elegans. His group cloned the lin-4 gene which affects the timing of developmental events by negatively regulating the LIN-14 protein levels. Surprisingly, the lin-4 gene product turned out not to be a protein but rather a small 22-nucleotide RNA containing sequences complementary to the 3'UTR of lin-14 mRNA, suggesting that lin-4 regulates lin-14 translation via a direct RNA-RNA interaction. Thousands of miRNAs have recently been found in many eukaryotes including humans, and miRNAs are shown to be linked to many diseases, including cancer and neurological diseases. The application of miRNAs to target disease genes and the technology to block action of miRNAs are emerging as new therapeutic approaches. Ambros' discovery of miRNA has thus overturned the traditional paradigms of the regulation of gene expression and opened up an exciting new field of research.

Background

Education

1979

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. Biology

1975

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, S.B. Biology

Professional Experience

1975-1976

Research Assistant, M.I.T. Center for Cancer Research. Supervisor: David Baltimore.

1976-1979

Graduate Research Assistant. Supervisor: David Baltimore
Postdoctoral Fellow, M.I.T. Supervisor: H. Robert Horvitz

1985-1988

Assistant Professor, Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University

1988-1992

Associate Professor, Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University

1992-1996

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College

1996-2001

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College

2001-2007

Professor of Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School

2008-present

Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Major Honors and Awards

2005

Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award (shared), Brandeis University

2008

Lasker Award (shared)

2008

Gairdner Foundation International Award

2009

Dickson Prize, University of Pittsburgh

2012

Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research (shared)


Shigekazu Nagata, Ph.D.

The 2013 Keio Medical Science Prize Awardees

Shigekazu Nagata, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Medical Chemistry
Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University
* Website (Shigekazu Nagata Lab.)

Reason for Selection and His Major Achievement:

Molecular mechanisms of apoptosis and its physiology

Aged or abnormal cells are eliminated by the process of programmed cell death, named apoptosis. Apoptotic cells are engulfed by macrophages. Dr. Shigekazu Nagata first elucidated the molecular mechanism of a series of apoptotic reactions, and discovered the physiological significance of each process. He characterized the Fas-Fas ligand system and identified the DNA degradation enzymes that are involved in DNA fragmentation in apoptotic cells. He also showed that abnormality in those processes caused autoimmune diseases. More recently, he identified the molecules necessary for the recognition of apoptotic cells by macrophages, in which phosphatidylserine on the cell surface of apoptotic cells plays an important role. Notably, his group discovered the long-searched enzyme called scramblase, which is essential to expose phosphatidylserine on the cell surface. Dr. Shigekazu Nagata's continuous great contribution to the field of apoptosis well deserves the Keio Medical Science prize.

Background

Education

1968- 1972

Undergraduate in the Faculty of Science, University of Tokyo

1972- 1977

Graduate Student in the Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo

Research and professional experience

1977- 1981

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Zurich

1982- 1987

Assistant Professor, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo

1987- 1998

Head, Department of Molecular Biology, Osaka Bioscience Institute

1995- 2007

Professor, Department of Genetics, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine

2002- 2007

Professor, Integrated Biology Laboratories, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University

2007-present

Professor, Department of Medical Chemistry Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University

Major Honors and Awards

1994

Emil Adolf von Behring Prize, Philipps-Universitat Marburg (Germany)

1995

Robert Koch Award, Koch Foundation (Germany)

1997

Le Prix Antoine Lacassagne, French Cancer League (France)

2001

Person of Cultural Merit, Japanese Government (Japan)

2012

Debrecen Award, Debrecen University (Hungary)

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