Press Room

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 26, 2016

2016 Japan Prize Honors Trailblazers in Material Science and Plant Breeding

Dr. Hideo Hosono challenged conventional wisdom by creating innovative materials;
Dr. Steven D. Tanksley laid the foundation for modern crop breeding

TOKYO (January 26, 2016) - The Japan Prize Foundation today announced the winners of the 2016 Japan Prize, who have pushed the envelope in their respective fields of “Materials and Production” and “Biological Production and Biological Environment” with imaginative ideas, thereby significantly contributing to the advancement of science and technology, as well as serving the cause of peace and prosperity of mankind.

Dr. Hideo Hosono, Professor of Materials and Structures Laboratory and Founding Director of the Materials Research Center for Element Strategy at Tokyo Institute of Technology, was recognized for the “creation of unconventional inorganic materials with novel electronic functions based on nanostructure engineering.”

His achievements include the creation of a number of semiconductors using transparent amorphous oxides, materials believed to be electrically insulating. In-Ga-Zn-O thin-film transistor (IGZO-TFT) is a notable example of such inventions. This material is now used widely as energy-efficient liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in personal and tablet computers and is also starting to be implemented in large-size organic light emitting diode (OLED) TV panels. He also created electrically-conductive materials from a constituent of commercial alumina cement and superconductors based on iron, a metal thought to be unfavorable for superconductivity - to name just a few examples. With innovative thinking, Dr. Hosono opened up new horizons in material science and contributed immensely to the development of industry.

Dr. Steven D. Tanksley, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor Emeritus of Cornell University, was recognized for his “contribution to modern crop breeding through research on development of molecular genetic analysis.” Dr. Tanksley created chromosomal maps of crops using molecular genetic analysis and then proceeded to develop a revolutionary technique to identify genes that are related to agricultural productivity, such as those that affect fruit size. He thus introduced science-based technology to traditional crop breeding that largely relied on experience, intuition and luck. His research, which combines genetic information and breeding techniques, has contributed enormously to increasing selection accuracy and reducing the amount of time required to breed new crop varieties. Dr. Tanksley’s highly original approach inspired researchers around the world.

Triggered by his research, for example, Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) was developed. This breakthrough technology enables systematic improvement of crops based on DNA markers, leading to a stable production of crops. Today, MAS has become an indispensable method of crop development and livestock breeding.

To honor Dr. Hosono and Dr. Tanksley, the Japan Prize Foundation will host an award ceremony on April 20 in Tokyo. Each laureate will receive a certificate of recognition and a commemorative gold medal. A cash award of 50 million Japanese yen (approximately US$420,000) will also be given to each laureate.

Currently, the Foundation is in the initial stage of the nomination process for the 2017 Japan Prize, asking its selected nominators across the globe to turn in the names and achievements of the candidates who they think deserve the prestigious international prize in the fields of “Electronics, Information and Communication” and “Life Science.” The submission deadline is the end of February 2016.

About the Japan Prize Foundation
Since its inception in 1985, the Japan Prize Foundation has awarded the Japan Prize to 86 people from 13 countries. In addition to awarding the Japan Prize, which is endorsed by the Japanese government, the Foundation hosts "Easy-to-Understand Science and Technology" seminars and awards research grants to help nurture young scientists and further promote the advancement of science and technology. For additional details about the Japan Prize Foundation and its activities, please visit http://www.japanprize.jp/en.

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