お問い合わせ先

Secretariat of the International Prize for Biology, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
TEL03-3263-1872/1869
FAX+81-3-3234-3700
E-mail

国際生物学賞

36th Presentation Ceremony, Acceptance Address, Selection Process

The 36th International Prize for Biology Presented to Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo.


Presentation of the Prize
Presentation of the Prize

A ceremony was held on December 16 in which Dr. SATOMI Susumu, President of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, presented the International Prize for Biology to Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo, Senior Advisor, RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science. The Prize consists of a certificate, medal and purse of 10 million yen.
A congratulatory gift from His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino was also given to Dr. SHINOZAKI.

The ceremony concluded with Dr. SHINOZAKI offering a message on his acceptance of the Prize. This year, the ceremony was venued at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, which serves as the Secretariat for the Committee on the International Prize for Biology.

After the presentation of the Prize, Dr. SHINOZAKI and his wife Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuko repaired to the Palace where they met with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino and thanked them for the elegant congratulatory gift and for the kind remarks expressed in his address.

The following written addresses were presented for 36th International Prize for Biology:

Address by His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino

Congratulatory address by Prime Minister Mr. SUGA Yoshihide

Congratulatory address by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Mr. HAGIUDA Koichi

Acceptance address by Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo

Dr. Shinozaki with his wife holding the congratulatory giftDr. Shinozaki with his wife holding the congratulatory gift Meeting with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino in the PalaceMeeting with Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino in the Palace

Congratulatory address by Prime Minister Mr. SUGA Yoshihide

I would like to offer my congratulations on the occasion of this ceremony to confer the 36th International Prize for Biology.

The International Prize for Biology was established in honor of the 60th year of Emperor Showa’s reign and his longtime devotion to biological research, and it also honors the contributions of His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus in pursuing his own taxonomic studies of fish, especially the family Gobiidae, over many years. The prize has earned high esteem around the world as a prestigious award.

To Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo, on whom this distinction has been bestowed this year, may I extend my warmest congratulations.

Dr. SHINOZAKI has been a global pioneer in utilizing molecular biology techniques to elucidate plants’ acquisition of drought tolerance and the associated response mechanism, and he has been a leader in this field. Of particular note is the successful development of drought- and cold-tolerant crops using genes related to environmental stress tolerance discovered by Dr. SHINOZAKI; this achievement is expected to make a major contribution toward addressing the climate change–related food crisis.

Outstanding academic research such as this plays an important role as a wellspring of innovation, while also helping to solve the social issues facing humankind. The government, for its part, renews its commitment to support a diverse spectrum of original research based on the free thinking of researchers, and to nurture the talented individuals who will inspire the next generation and play an active role at the global level.

In closing, I should like to wish Dr. SHINOZAKI continuing success in his endeavors, and to wish him, and all of you, the very best of health.

 

Congratulatory address by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Mr. HAGIUDA Koichi

I am truly delighted that the award ceremony for the 36th International Prize for Biology is taking place today.

To Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo, whom we honor today, I would like to express my sincere respect and my wholehearted congratulations.

Dr. SHINOZAKI has played an instrumental role in discovering genes related to environmental stress tolerance in plants and elucidating their regulatory mechanisms, using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as the primary material. His pioneering research achievements are justly lauded, and are included in many textbooks on plant science. In addition, Dr. SHINOZAKI is engaged in functional genomics research and has contributed greatly to the development of such research on plants by leading the collection of research resources including model plant genes, and developing the technical foundation for analysis.

As a form of intellectual and creative activity, academic research springs from the intellectual curiosity and free thinking of individual scholars, and it contributes greatly to the sustainable development of human society through the diverse spectrum of outstanding knowledge and talent thus engendered. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is seeking to further advance the field of research pioneered by Dr. SHINOZAKI while encouraging all forms of academic research in Japan. To that end, we will continue supporting young researchers and improving the research environment.

In closing, I should like to wish Dr. SHINOZAKI every success with his further endeavors, and to express my respect and appreciation to the members of the Committee on the International Prize for Biology and all the other individuals who have worked so hard on behalf of this celebrated award.

 

Acceptance address by Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo

Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo

Dr. SHINOZAKI Kazuo

I am extremely honored to receive the International Prize for Biology today. It is a tremendous privilege to be recognized alongside the 35 distinguished prizewinners to date, and I am sincerely grateful. I also consider it a great honor that the findings of this research we started 31 years ago have earned international acclaim in the field of Biology of Environmental Responses. I appreciate the support of my many outstanding collaborators that this research have yielded results, and I am delighted to accept the esteemed International Prize for Biology on behalf of everybody involved.

In addition to the award certificate and medal, it is also a special honor to receive a commemorative gift from His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino. This prestigious prize for basic biology commemorates the longstanding commitment to biological research of Emperor Showa and His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus. His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino is also engaged in research on biology. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Committee on the International Prize for Biology, the selection committee, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, to whom I owe the privilege of receiving such a highly regarded award. Given the enormous impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic this year, I am extremely grateful to you for holding a ceremony such as this.

The choice of the Biology of Environmental Responses as the research field for this year’s award will shine a light on the study of organisms that face a range of environmental stresses as a result of climate change, and on the environmental stress responses and survival strategies of plants in particular. I would like to pay tribute and express my appreciation to the organizers for this. I consider myself extremely privileged to have received this award as a representative of the research field of environmental responses within the plant science discipline.

I obtained my doctorate for research on molecular biology relating to DNA replication from the Nagoya University graduate school under the tutelage of Professors OKAZAKI Tsuneko and Reiji. I subsequently conducted research on the plant chloroplast genome at the National Institute of Genetics and then Nagoya University under the guidance of Professor SUGIURA Masahiro. These enabled me to master the research methods used for molecular biology and genome research. It was followed by a period as a visiting scientist at the laboratory of Professor Nam-Hai CHUA of the Rockefeller University, where I learned about transcriptional regulation of plants’ nuclear genes. Professor Chua was the 21st recipient of this prize, and my wife and I are extremely indebted to him.

In 1989 I took up a PI position at RIKEN Institute, where I started to research the role of plant genes in environmental stress responses and the regulation of gene expression. This is the research that has been recognized by today’s award. We studied genes that relate to the capacity of plants, which are immobile, to respond to environmental stresses such as drought and acquire tolerance. This enabled us to understand the excellent strategies plants use to respond to changes in their environment and survive. We employed the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as our research material and used genome function analysis as our research method. As a result we were first in the world to elucidate gene expression associated with environmental stress response in plants, as well as genes that comprise important signal transduction factors. The environmental stress response of plants is regulated via a complex mechanism involving a diverse network of genes, and I personally find the elaborate system regulating plants’ environmental response extremely impressive and elegant.

Building on this research, we collaborated internationally, using actual crops in dry field conditions to test the many genes associated with drought tolerance that we discovered in our basic research using the model plant. As a result of these tests, we learned that the genes we had discovered could be used to create new, drought-tolerant crops. Having demonstrated that the findings of basic science could be applied to produce new findings related to crop breeding, we were hopeful that our work would eventually contribute to society.

My research to date has been the result of the accumulated efforts of my many collaborators. I would like to express my gratitude to all the current and former members of laboratories who have collaborated with me in research. In particular, one person who has been a tremendous help in pursuing research as my collaborator from the earliest stages is my wife, YAMAGUCHI-SHINOZAKI Kazuko, professor emerita of the University of Tokyo. From the time I commenced this research throughout its subsequent development we have discussed a diverse range of topics to move the research forward. I would like to celebrate my receipt of the distinguished International Prize for Biology together with my wife.

Plant diversity plays a key role in shaping Earth’s environment. The environmental stress response of plants is a crucial field of research that can help to solve problems such as climate change and the impending food crisis. I would like the next generation of researchers to further deepen our understanding of how organisms respond and adapt to their environments and to extend this research by adopting new perspectives. I expect the next generation of researchers to take on new challenges and endeavors, and I intend to support them as they pursue those challenges.

In closing, I would like to reiterate how sincerely grateful I am to be awarded the distinguished International Prize for Biology. Thank you very much.

*The presentation ceremony, which is normally held in November or December at the Japan Academy, had to be canceled this year due to the novel coronavirus infection.
Thus, the JSPS President presented the Prize to the recipient at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The commemorative symposium to be held after the presentation ceremony every year was also canceled.