New Delhi: Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi has been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discoveries on autophagy.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2016 was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy”, the Nobel committee said in a statement from the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden.

Autophagy is a physiological process in the body that deals with destruction of cells in the body. It maintains homeostasis or normal functioning by protein degradation and turnover of the destroyed cell organelles for new cell formation.

The committee on social media said, “Autophagy has been known for over 50 years but its fundamental importance in physiology and medicine was only recognized after Yoshinori Ohsumi’s paradigm-shifting research in the 1990’s.”

Thanks to Ohsumi and others following in his footsteps, we now know that autophagy controls important physiological functions where cellular components need to be degraded and recycled, it said.

Ohsumi, 71 who was born in Fukuoka, worked as a Research Associate the University of Tokyo in 1977. He was appointed Lecturer there in 1986, and promoted to Associate Professor in 1988.


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