The award citation and comments from Professor Mori: "Kazutoshi Mori, Professor of the Graduate School of Science, receives Lasker Award (9 September 2014)"

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The award citation and comments from Professor Mori

Professor Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University's Graduate School of Science and Professor Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco, received the 2014 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for their "discoveries concerning the unfolded protein response (UPR)" and for uncovering processes related to the UPR signaling pathway.

Working with yeast, Professor Mori discovered a sensor molecule, known as IRE1, that detects the accumulation of unfolded proteins in a subcellular organelle (membrane-bound intracellular structure) called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Having thus pioneered the study of the UPR, he went on to unravel the molecular mechanism of the process in mammals, revealing the elaborate, multistage quality-control system that higher organisms have in place to counter the ER accumulation of proteins that do not have correct three-dimensional shapes.

Since the UPR is known to play a role in the development and progression of numerous diseases, the findings made by Professors Mori and Walter may lead to novel therapeutic and preventive applications.

Comments from Professor Kazutoshi Mori

It is my great pleasure and honor to receive the Lasker Award, the most prestigious American award in medicine. I started these basic studies with yeast 25 years ago at the University of Texas, where I served as a Postdoctoral Fellow, seeking to build on the groundbreaking advances in protein research that occurred in the 1950s. I am heartily grateful to all my mentors, colleagues, and collaborators for their guidance and efforts to gain a globally competitive edge in the field. Without them, I would not be where I am today.

I will continue doing my best to expand the frontiers of research into the unfolded protein response. It is my fervent hope that these efforts will raise awareness of the importance of fundamental science and the continuing need to support such studies.

Comments from KU President Hiroshi Matsumoto

As President of Kyoto University, I am extremely proud of the fact that Professor Kazutoshi Mori has been selected, along with Professor Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco, to receive the Lasker Award, one of the most prestigious science prizes in the world. The award recognizes the significant contributions the two researchers had made to medical sciences through their pioneering work in the study of the unfolded protein response and their discovery of the key signaling pathways involved. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that Kyoto University will continue to strive to create the very best research environment to support world-class scholars. We appreciate your continued cooperation and support.

About the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation was founded in 1942 by health activist and philanthropist Mary Woodard Lasker (1901-1994) with her husband, Albert (1880-1952). Mary Lasker was known in her time as one the most influential advocates for increased medical research funding in the United States, and was responsible for leading the Foundation's various activities. The Lasker Awards were inaugurated in 1946, and have since been conferred upon the world's leading researchers in basic and clinical medical sciences as well as individuals who had made outstanding contributions to public services. Through these undertakings, the Lasker Foundation aims to promote support for medical research, and contribute to the prevention and management of diseases and disorders.

About the Lasker Awards

First presented in 1946, the Lasker Awards are counted among the most respected science prizes in the world. Eighty-six Lasker laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 44 in the last three decades. Among the recipients of the two prizes is Dr Joseph L Goldstein, a University of Texas professor who received the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985, and who currently chairs the jury for the Lasker Medical Research Awards.

Further information about current and past winners of the Lasker Awards can be found on the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation's official website.

Lasker laureates from Japan

Hidesaburo Hanafusa (1982), Susumu Tonegawa (1987), Yasutomi Nishizuka (1989), Yoshio Masui (1998), Akira Endo (2008), and Shinya Yamanaka (2009)