Kyoto University is acknowledged as the most accomplished research-oriented universities in Asia. The validity of that reputation is testified by the accolades conferred on our alumni and researchers, most notably nine Nobel Prize laureates who undertook vital research during their time at the university. In addition to those awards, several other Kyoto University faculty members have received respected accolades, including two Fields Medalists and one recipient of the Gauss Prize
The philosophical outlooks of Hideki Yukawa and Kenichi Fukui in particular have left enduring legacies at Kyoto University. Yukawa was the first Japanese national to be awarded the Nobel Prize, receiving his award in 1949, shortly after the end of WWII. An active peace campaigner, Yukawa has provided a great deal of inspiration for subsequent generations of researchers in Japan.
Fukui firmly advocated that students should be encouraged to undertake original research early in their academic careers.
This had a direct influence on Kyoto University’s education system, which allows for early specialization. The university’s encouragement of interdisciplinary collaboration was also influenced by Fukui, who famously held the belief that breakthroughs in science are produced by the unexpected fusion of remotely related fields.
1949 Physics Hideki Yukawa
1965 Physics Shinichiro Tomonaga
1981 Chemistry Kenichi Fukui
1987 Physiology or Medicine Susumu Tonegawa
2001 Chemistry Ryoji Noyori
2008 Physics Makoto Kobayashi
2008 Physics Toshihide Maskawa
2012 Physiology or Medicine Shinya Yamanaka
2014 Physics Isamu Akasaki
1970 Mathematics Heisuke Hironaka
1990 Mathematics Shigefumi Mori
2006 Mathematics Kiyoshi Ito
2005 Information and Media Technology Makoto Nagao
2005 Cell Biology Masatoshi Takeichi
1995 Basic Sciences Chushiro Hayashi
1998 Basic Sciences Kiyoshi Ito
2004 Advanced Technology Alan Curtis Kay
2010 Advanced Technology Shinya Yamanaka
2016 Basic Sciences Tasuku Honjo
1987 Basic Medical Research Susumu Tonegawa
1989 Basic Medical Research Yasutomi Nishizuka
1998 Basic Medical Research Yoshio Masui
2009 Basic Medical Research Shinya Yamanaka
2014 Basic Medical Research Kazutoshi Mori
Kyoto University Alumnus Awarded Nobel Prize in Physics
Prof. Isamu Akasaki, a graduate of Kyoto University’s Faculty of Science; professor of Nagoya University; professor of Meijo University, has been jointly awarded the 2014 Noble Prize in Physics. The prize motivation is “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.”
The prize was jointly awarded to Prof. Akasaki together with Prof. Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, Japan and Prof. Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
Prof. Akasaki became interested in Kyoto University after hearing from a graduate of his high school who enrolled Kyoto University about the atmosphere of its laboratories, its culture of encouraging creativity, and its prominent researchers.1) After enrollment, he studied analytical chemistry under Prof. Masayoshi Ishibashi. As his student life progressed, he began to feel a desire to do or create something new, no matter how small. This aspiration, together with a level of dedication and persistence seldom found in other researchers, led to his groundbreaking discovery of gallium nitride (GaN).
Professor Kazutoshi Mori Shares Lasker Award
Prof. Kazutoshi Mori of the Graduate School of Science was awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation on 8 September 2014. Prof. Mori and Prof. Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco, shared the award for their discoveries concerning the unfolded protein response (UPR). Prof. Mori is the seventh Japanese Lasker laureate, following Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, director of Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) and winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Since the inception of the Lasker Award in 1945, there have been seven Japanese recipients, five of whom are Kyoto University alumni and/or faculty members. In addition to Prof. Mori (2014) and Dr. Yamanaka (2009), the award has also been conferred on Profs. Yoshio Masui (1998), Yasutomi Nishizuka (1989), and Susumu Tonegawa (1987).