Koki Horikoshi (73), professor emeritus at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Director General of Extremobiosphere Research Center JAMSTEC, has been honored with this year's Japan Academy Prize. The award ceremony was held on July 3, 2006, in the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Prof. Horikoshi received the award for his studies on the diversity, physiology, and application of alkaliphilic microorganisms. He was the first person in the world to isolate alkaliphiles (alkaline-loving microorganisms) and opened up a new vista of the microbial world. His creative studies have influenced microbiology throughout the world and established the foundations of a new field of biological research into extremophiles, i.e. microorganisms that prefer extreme conditions. He has also conducted extensive screening for the enzymes produced by alkaliphiles, and made a great impact on industrial applications.
Koki Horikoshi was born in Saitama (Japan) in 1932. He obtained a B.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. He is the author of Alkaliphiles: Genetic Properties and Applications of Enzymes (2006), published by Springer. He founded Springer's international journal Extremophiles and has helped develop the journal as Editor-in-Chief since 1997. He also set up the International Society for Extremophiles in 2002 as founding president and is a lifetime honorary president of the society. He has received many awards for his scientific work, including the Purple Medal (1987), the Gold Medal from the UK's International Biotechnology Society (1991) and the Honda Prize (1992).
The Japan Academy Prize is awarded to people who have achieved notable research landmarks or who have authored particularly outstanding academic papers or books. Up to nine of these prizes are awarded every year. Each laureate receives a certificate, a medal, and prize money of one million yen.
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