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Two Professors Emeritus awarded the Japan Academy Prize 2010

  • School of Science Newsletter Editorial Committee

In the 100 years since its establishment, the Japan Academy Prize, which is one of the most authoritative academic awards in Japan, has been awarded to many professors from the School of Science, including Professor Emeritus Masatoshi Koshiba (in 1989). This year Professors Emeritus Katsuhiko Sato and Tsuneyoshi Kuroiwa are recipients of the award.

Congratulating Professor Emeritus Katsuhiko Sato on winning the prize

  • J. Yokoyama (Professor, Research Center for the Early Universe)
Figure 1

Professor Emeritus Katsuhiko Sato

Professor Emeritus Katsuhiko Sato (currently president of the National Institute of Natural Sciences), who was the former director of the Research Center for the Early Universe (RESCEU) and retired from the Department of Physics, School of Science in 2009, was awarded the Japan Academy Prize 2010 for his “Research on Accelerated Expansion of the Universe.” Professor Sato applied the Grand Unified Theory of elementary interactions in particle physics to the early Universe, and showed that the Universe had expanded exponentially in tens-of-digit figures when the symmetry-breaking phase transition of vacuum took place in the early Universe. As a result the simple Big Bang Cosmology was transformed to the Inflationary Cosmology. In addition, he showed that the fluctuations that could have become a seed of the large-scale structure in the Universe can be generated at the time of inflation, and he also showed that due to the expansion of the horizon caused by the inflation, as observed now, the physical universe, which has a positive baryon number uniformly in the wide-range area, became a reality. Furthermore, he showed that multi production of universes in a self dual manner is a natural consequence of inflationary cosmology: A “mother” universe gives birth to “child” and “grand-child” universes. This was revolutionary because it urged people to change the classical cosmic view of a “single absolute Universe” to the thought of “our universe among diversified universes.” In recent years, experts have even put forward arguments for the probability of our Universe coming into existence in the context of the landscape of quantum cosmology and superstring theory; however, one should not forget that the above-mentioned changes in cosmic views were pioneered by Professor Sato.

In April 2010 Professor Sato became the president of the National Institute of Natural Sciences.

Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Tsuneyoshi Kuroiwa on winning the award

  • S. Kawano (Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at the Graduate School of Science and Professor of the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences)
Figure 2

Professor Emeritus Tsuneyoshi Kuroiwa

Professor Emeritus Tsuneyoshi Kuroiwa (currently Project Professor, Department of Life Sciences, College of Science, Rikkyo University) was awarded the Japan Academy Prize 2010 for his highly-evaluated 40-year study that resulted in the “Discovery of the Basic Mechanism Regarding Division and Inheritance of Mitochondria and Chloroplasts.”

Mitochondria and chloroplasts create biogenic energy, and the discovery of the basic mechanism regarding their division and inheritance is likely to get to the origin of a cell, which is a basic unit of life. Professor Kuroiwa has discovered that mitochondria and chloroplasts divide by their own division apparatus, which has a multiple-ring configuration. In addition, he has isolated the division apparatus to identify the protein and genes which constitute the apparatus, thus showing the basic mechanism of division and propagation of mitochondria and chloroplasts, which had been unknown until this breakthrough. To promote this research he developed Cyanidioschyzon merolae (schyzon) as an experimental material and succeeded in a literal “complete sequencing” of the “schyzon” genome in 2004.

Professor Kuroiwa has also devoted himself to the research on the “maternal inheritance” that characterizes the feature of mitochondria and chloroplasts to find out that DNA of male origin is selectively digested by its own degrading enzyme (nuclease), thus showing why only a mother's genes are inherited by her children. Even now many researchers are astonished by the micrographs with which he truly visualized the maternal inheritance. His innovative research has led to a number of dynamic technological achievements, such as the development of a super-high resolution fluorescence microscope, which is highly evaluated not only in Japan, but throughout the world.