My Comments on Dr. Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize


It is wonderful that Shinya Yamanaka was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In October, I met Dr. Yamanaka when he attended the STS Forum in Kyoto. I have touched upon this briefly in a previous blog post.

It is an amazing achievement with a very significant impact and the world had been waiting with high expectations. The first report was published only in 2006, so it goes to show how large an impact Dr. Yamanaka’s findings on the iPS had. I am truly overjoyed.

Regarding the Nobel Prize, I have written about it many times on this site, and this time I was asked by many newspapers to give my comments. I continue to hold the same view as I have in the past(in Japanese).

My opinion focuses on the issue that faces Japanese universities and society at large, and is thought to be the norm in Japan- the “vertical society.”

I have explained my views in the following articles:

1.  “The University of Tokyo and the Nobel Prize” (in Japanese)

2.  “Why it is Difficult for the University of Tokyo to Create Nobel Laureates” (in Japanese)

3.  “The Noble Prize and the Academy Awards” (in Japanese)

4.  “Cultivation of the Future Generation is Fundamental to the Nation” (in Japanese)

5.  “Celebrating the 100th Year of the Nobel Prize” (in Japanese)

6.  “Japan’s Challenges for Training Future Scientists” (in Japanese)

7.  “Cultivating the ‘Nail that Sticks Out’ through World Exchange” (in Japanese)

The impact of the research conducted by Dr. Yamanaka and others like him is not merely something that can be measured by the “impact factor.” Rather, it has IMPACT on the whole world.

This kind of research is often born out of the rebellious spirit that comes not from the mainstream way of thinking, but from the "crazy ones."(1)

At this time in the twenty-first century, there have been eleven Japanese who have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Out of these eleven, Dr Nanbu (Noble Prize in Physics), Dr. Shimomura (Chemistry), and Dr. Negishi (Chemistry) have built their careers abroad, in the United States. Dr Tonegawa is also a similar case, having worked in San Diego and in Basel.

You must not be afraid to be “the nail that sticks out” or one of the “crazy ones.” For it is the nail that sticks out that changes the world.