Nobel Prize in Medicine 2016 awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work in autophagy

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet on 3 October 2016 decided to award the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi.

Ohsumi is bestowed with the prize for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy. He discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.

What is autophagy?

 Autophagy is the natural, destructive mechanism that disassembles, through a regulated process, unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components.

 It allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components.

 During this process, targeted cytoplasmic constituents are isolated from the rest of the cell within a double-membraned vesicle known as an autophagosome.

 The autophagosome then fuses with a lysosome and the contents are degraded and recycled.

 Three different forms of autophagy are commonly described as macroautophagy, microautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy.

 The name autophagy was coined by Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve in 1963.

Who is Yoshinori Ohsumi?

 Yoshinori Ohsumi is a Japanese cell biologist specializing in autophagy.

 He is a professor in Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Frontier Research Center.

 He received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Science in 2012.

About Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

 It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will.

 As of 2015, 106 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded to 198 men and 12 women.

 The first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 1901 to the German physiologist Emil von Behring for his work on serum therapy and the development of a vaccine against diphtheria.

 The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was Gerty Cori, who received it in 1947 for her role in elucidating the metabolism of glucose.

 The 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for discoveries concerning novel therapies against river blindness, lymphatic filariasis and malaria to William C. Campbell, Satoshi Omura and Youyou Tu.

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