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Distinguished Professor Shimon SAKAGUCHI of IFReC awarded Canada Gairdner International Award



Osaka University is happy to announce that Distinguished Professor Shimon SAKAGUCHI of the World Premier International (WPI) Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) has been chosen as a recipient of the 2015 Canada Gairdner International Award.

The Gairdner International Award is given by Canada's Gairdner Foundation to individuals whose “seminal discoveries and major scientific contributions constitute an original and significant achievement in biomedical science," and is one of the most prestigious scientific prizes in the world.

Past Japanese winners of this award include Kimishige ISHIZAKA and Teruko ISHIZAKA (Immunology), Susumu TONEGAWA (Immunology), Shinya YAMANAKA (Regenerative Medicine), and Kazutoshi MORI (Cellular Biology).

In addition, in 2011, Osaka University's Shizuo AKIRA (Professor/Director, WPI-IFReC) received the award, with Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI being the second Osaka University recipient.

The reasoning for Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI's selection to receive the award is as follows:

“for his discovery of regulatory T cells, characterization of their role in immunity and application to the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer”

• More information is available here (File in Japanese)

• Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI's research is also covered in Osaka University Newsletter Vol. 62 (December, 2013, p 7-8) (File in Japanese)

The award ceremony is scheduled to take place in Toronto, Canada in October of 2015. The recipients of this award will also be awarded with 100,000 Canadian dollars, and will be holding lectures at several locations in Canada as part of "Gairdner Week."

The Gairdner Foundation homepage can be found here.

Comments from Distinguished Professor Shimon SAKAGUCHI  after winning the award

I'm so happy to be acknowledged internationally after working for all these years. There aren't a large number of people in this field but rather, all kinds of researchers have just begun research in this field within the past 15 or so years. I feel as though I'm receiving this award as a representative of those researchers. No matter how many years you do research, there's always something interesting to find. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to continue to do research for so many years. And it's all the better that I've been able to attract some attention to this field by receiving this award. I've once again realized that it is important to make use of this research to contribute to others, especially to the treatment of cancer and incurable diseases. I'd like to continue performing research in order to see the extent of the possibilities of permanent cures in the future.

Comment from President Toshio HIRANO
Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI's research is a quintessential example of one that stretches from foundation to application. To fully believe that the phenomenon that you discovered is true, to continue to research that one phenomenon tirelessly for all these years, and to produce results; Distinguished Professor Sakaguchi's perseverance and love of research makes him a paragon of a researcher. Distinguished Professor Sakaguchi's award is a great distinction for Osaka University, and will bring even higher praise and recognition to OU's research in the field of immunology as it strives to be the world's best in the field.


Background History of Distinguished Professor Shimon SAKAGUCHI

Brief Bio

1976  Graduated the Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, entered Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University坂口先生
1977  Research Scholar, Laboratory of Experimental Pathology, Aichi Cancer Research Institute
1980  Research Scholar, School of Medicine, Kyoto University
1981  Medical Staff, Kyoto University Hospital
1983  Doctor of Medicine, Kyoto University
1983  Post-graduate researcher, Johns Hopkins University, USA 
1987  Visiting Research Fellow, Stanford University
1989  Assistant Professor, Immunology and Microbial Science Department, The Scripps Research Institute
1991  Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California, San Diego
1992  Research Engineer, Sakigake 21 Planning, Research Development Corp. of Japan
1999  Professor, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University
2007  Director, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University
2007~11 Professor (concurrent), Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University 
2011  Professor, Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University 
2013  Distinguished Professor, Osaka University

Area of Expertise and Award History

• An immunology specialist, Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI, while performing research to explain the phenomena of autoimmune diseases occurring through thymus removal, has verified the existence of special T cells which control autoimmune responses, known as "regulatory T cells," in the body. In addition, he has also contributed the elucidation of the role of such regulatory T cells with regards to immune-related diseases, such as autoimmune disorders, organ transplants, and cancer.

•  Distinguished Professor SAKAGUCHI has received the William B. Coley Award (USA), Takeda Award, The 13th Keio Medical Science Prize, Uehara Prize, Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon, The Asahi Prize, Japan Academy Prize. He is also a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Distinguished Professor Shimon SAKAGUCHI  (right) with President Toshio HIRANO

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