Prof. Emeritus, T. Kuroiwa won both Purple Ribbon Medal & Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award

  • Akihiko Nakano (Professor, Biological Sciences)
Figure 1

Prof. Emeritus Tsuneyoshi Kuroiwa was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal 2008 in spring this year for his research achievements in plant cell biology. In addition to that, he won the 2008 Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award, the most prestigious award of all presented by ASPB (American Society of Plant Biologists).

Prof. Kuroiwa received his PhD from The University of Tokyo. After his positions at the Faculty of Science, Okayama University, and at the National Institute for Basic Biology, he worked as a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Tokyo from 1987 to 2002, teaching and researching plant cell biology.

Prof. Kuroiwa has made outstanding contributions in plant cell biology by clarifying the mechanisms of division and growth of organelles, mitochondria and chloroplasts, based on the discovery of their division machinery, and the mechanism of maternal inheritance. Photosynthesis, one of the most important functions of plants, takes place in chloroplasts within cells. Oxidative respiration, which is indispensable for most of the living organisms' energy production, is carried out within mitochondria. These organelles are considered to be the offspring of the bacteria that began symbiosis within the host cells about 2 billion years ago and have been proliferating inside the cells to the present. Prof. Kuroiwa has discovered the division machinery of these organelles and clarified the molecular mechanisms of organelle division which had been wrapped in mystery.

The DNA of mitochondria and chloroplasts is known to be maternally-inherited in most living organisms. Prof. Kuroiwa revealed that this is because of the selective degradation of paternal DNA.

In order to develop these researches, Prof. Kuroiwa found out the primitive red alga (Cyanidioschizon merolae), as the key model organism of eukaryotes, performed genome sequencing, and became the first researcher in the world who succeeded in 100 % genome sequencing. Cyanidioschizon is now used world-wide as an important model organism.

Prof. Kuroiwa is still active at the cutting edge of research field as the director of RICE (Research Information Center for Extremophile), Rikkyo (St. Paul's) University and a project professor at the Graduate School of Science, Rikkyo (St. Paul's) University.

We wish Prof. Kuroiwa continued health and success.