Prizes & Awards

Profs. Osamu Nureki and Toshiyuki Kobayashi awarded the 27th Inoue Prize for Science

  • School of Science Newsletter Editorial Committee

The Inoue Prize for Science is awarded by the Inoue Foundation for Science to those researchers aged 49 or younger who have achieved particularly distinguished results in basic research in natural science. The 27th Prize has been awarded to Prof. Osamu Nureki from the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry of the Graduate School of Science and Prof. Toshiyuki Kobayashi from the Graduate School of Mathematical Science. The awards ceremony was held on Feb. 4, 2011.

Congratulations to Prof. Nureki on winning the prize

  • Takeaki Ozawa (Professor, Department of Chemistry)
Figure 1

Prof. Osamu Nureki

Prof. Nureki was awarded the prize for his research into “the genetic code translation and the definition of protein synthesis mechanism.”

Translation — linking the designated amino acids and synthesizing protein accurately based on the DNA-sequence information (genetic code) — is a universal phenomenon for living things. During this process, the “aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase” plays an important role in properly combing the genetic codes with 20-type amino acids. For 10 types among 20 aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, Prof. Nureki broke new ground by unlocking the three-dimensional complex structure of enzymes and tRNA by X-ray crystal structural analysis. Based on the analysis results, he succeeded in discovering the mechanism of protein being accurately created from genetic codes at the molecular level. He also revealed dynamic processes: how the precursor tRNA, which is created by transcription from DNA, is severed, or how tRNA becomes matured by chemical modification. In recent years, Prof. Nureki has achieved internationally recognized results in structural analysis of “membrane protein” which transports protein outside the cell. He has been highly evaluated for his considerable contribution to the research on structural biology in the true sense, which helps the understanding of not only the structure of tRNA synthetase and membrane protein, but also the understanding at the atomic level the mechanism that the function of protein develops.

I extend my sincere congratulations to Professor Nureki on winning this award, and I wish him continued success in all of his endeavors.

Congratulations to Prof. Kobayashi on winning the award

  • Takashi Tsuboi (Professor, Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences)
Figure 1

Prof. Toshiyuki Kobayashi

Prof. Kobayashi was awarded the prize for his outstanding contribution to the “analysis of symmetries in infinite dimensions.”

Prof. Kobayashi has created new theories in mathematics through his new perspectives and epoch-making ideas, and he has accomplished the basis of these theories entirely by himself. His study of symmetry encompasses a wide range of pure mathematics and creates many fruitful theories.

His four major research areas, which he himself originated, are as follows: “the theory of discontinuous groups acting on homogeneous spaces,” “the theory of the discrete branching law for infinite dimensional unitary representations,” “the analytical theory of minimal representations,” and “the unified theory of multiplicity-free representations.” Each of these is an outstanding achievement and deserves a major academic prize, and these theories have attracted researchers from all over the world to create a new trend in mathematics. Basic mathematics is usually divided into three fields: algebra, geometry and analysis, but in Prof. Kobayashi's accomplishment, all these fields are marvelously blended and beautifully balanced.

The above-mentioned achievements of Prof. Kobayashi have a great impact on various areas of mathematics, thus resulting in his receiving international awards, such as the Sackler Distinguished Lecturer from Israel (2006/2007) and the Humboldt Prize from Germany (2008). Graduated from the University of Tokyo, Prof. Kobayashi has dedicated himself to the education of students ever since he was an assistant.

I wish him health, happiness and continued success in all of his endeavors.