Date
23 September 2017
The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine is awarded in equal shares to Kazutoshi Mori (left) and Peter Walter (right). Photo:
The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine is awarded in equal shares to Kazutoshi Mori (left) and Peter Walter (right). Photo:

Biologists win Shaw Prize for cell protein discovery

A Japanese scientist and a German-born biophysicist are joint winners of this year’s Shaw Prize for Life Science and Medicine for their discovery of a mechanism that can help regulate imbalances in protein production.

Kazutoshi Mori from Kyoto University and Peter Walter from the University of California in San Francisco will be presented with the “Nobel Prize of the East” in September, the official page of the Shaw Prize said on Tuesday.

The award is recognition of their discovery of the cellular signalling pathway — the so-called unfolded protein response — by which cells regulate protein production in the endoplasmic reticulum, a specialized protein factory. This in turn helps to fix irregular protein development that may lead to diabetes and cancer.

Mori is the second Shaw laureate from Japan after Shinya Yamanaka won the same award with two other British scientists in 2008.

The Shaw Prize also recognizes work in astronomy and mathematical sciences, and each of the three annual awards come with US$1 million in prize money.

The Shaw Prize in Astronomy is also a joint award this year, with half going to the youngest Shaw laureate, 44-year-old Israel-born Harvard University professor Daniel Eisenstein. The other half of the award goes in equal shares to Shaun Cole and John A Peacock from Britain.

The Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences is awarded to US professor George Lusztig.

The prizes were established in 2002 by Run Run Shaw, a Hong Kong media mogul and philanthropist who died this year at the age of 107.

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