2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
For elucidating the unfolded protein response, a cellular quality-control system that detects disease-causing unfolded proteins and directs cells to take corrective measures.
First, I would like to thank my family. By no means rich, my parents, Chuichi and Fukiko, worked hard and allowed me to continue at school for as long as I wished. Their dedication allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a PhD scientist. Early on I took the huge risk of quitting the permanent position I had obtained at a local university, and went to the United States to learn molecular biology. It was a new endeavor with no promise of success. However, my wife Sachiko said yes to my decision and supported me throughout. I am heartily grateful to my many mentors (Ikuo Yamashina, Toshisuke Kawasaki, Mary-Jane Gething, Joe Sambrook, Takashi Yura, Manabu Negishi and Yasunori Kozutsumi), colleagues, and collaborators (Tetsushi Kawahara, Hiderou Yoshida, Kyosuke Haze, Tetsuya Okada, Satoshi Ninagawa, and Tokiro Ishikawa) for their staunch support in our efforts to gain a globally competitive edge in the field. Without them, I would not be where I am today. Looking back, I can see that every happy meeting has been an opportunity to move forward. I hope for many more happy meetings, and to expand the frontiers of research into the UPR.