Awards & Honors
Award-Winning Scholars at Kyoto University

International Awards in Medicine and Life Science

Ross Harrison Prize 1989 International Society of Developmental Biologists

Developmental Biology

Awarded for

his contribution to the research field of developmental biology

Tokindo S. Okada [1927 -]

Doctor of Science
Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University


Professor Okada has contributed to the advancement of developmental biology. He focused on transdifferentiation, one of the unique features of cells in which one mature cell transforms into another type of mature cell. He used his original methodology for culturing lens cells to demonstrate the transdifferentiation and celler plasticity of a neural retina cell into a lens cell; his serial observation lasted 100 days. Including this discovery, Professor Okada’s work in organ regenerations has influenced the field of developmental biology, in which a series of focused research are conducted, such as on embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.


After graduation from Kyoto University, Tokindo S. Okada conducted research in Edinburgh in the UK and in the USA, and then returned to Kyoto University to start a laboratory at the then newly opened Department of Biophysics. He introduced cell culture and immunocytochemical techniques in Japan to promote further studies. In addition to his research activities, he mentored young scientists with his unique philosophy in science. After his early retirement from the National Institute for Basic Biology, he has actively voiced his views on the relationship between science and culture. He has also served as President of the Kyoto City music art cultural Promoting Foundation. Currently, he is an honorary advisor of JT Biohistory Research Hall and has authored a number of science books.


  • 1954

    Assistant Professor, Kyoto University

  • 1957

    Visiting Researcher, University of Edinburgh

  • 1959

    Received Doctor of Science from Kyoto University

  • 1960

    Lecturer, Kyoto University

  • 1961

    Associate Professor, Kyoto University

  • 1964

    Research Fellow, Carnegie Institution for Science

  • 1967

    Professor, Kyoto University (-1990)

  • 1979

    President of the Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists (-1982)

  • 1981

    President of the International Society of Developmental Biologists (-1985)

  • 1984

    Director, National Institute for Basic Biology, National Institutes of Natural Sciences

  • 1989

    Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University

  • 1989

    President of National Institutes of Natural Sciences (-1990)

  • 1993

    Founding Director, JT Biohistory Research Hall (-2002)

  • 2002

    Honorary Advisor, JT Biohistory Research Hall

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Other Awards and Prizes

  • 1989

    Alcon Novartis Hida Memorial Award, Alcon Novsrtis Hida Memorial Award, Alcon, Novartis, Japan

  • 1990

    Medal with Purple Ribbon, Japan

  • 1995

    Person of Cultural Merit, Japan

  • 2007

    Order of Culture, Japan

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