Masatoshi Takeichi to receive Canada Gairdner International Award | RIKEN BDR

Masatoshi Takeichi to receive Canada Gairdner International AwardOther

Mar 31, 2020

Masatoshi Takeichi, team leader*1 of BDR’s Laboratory for Cell Adhesion and Tissue Patterning, has been named a recipient of the prestigious 2020 Canada Gairdner International Award along with four other renowned scientists for seminal discoveries or contributions to biomedical science. Takeichi is awarded jointly with Dr. Rolf Kemler (Emeritus Member and Director, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Feiburg, Germany) for their "discovery, characterization and biology of cadherins and associated proteins in animal cell adhesion and signaling."

Masatoshi Takeichi with his lab members

Masatoshi Takeichi (Third from left) with his lab members

Takeichi began investigating how animal cells stick together to form organized structures of tissues and organs in the 1960s, and identified a key protein involved in cell adhesion process, which he named ‘cadherin.’ He went on to discover that there are multiple kinds of cadherin within the body, each of which are made by different cell types. Cells with the same cadherins tend to cluster together, providing an explanation as to how different cell types are sorted out and organized to form functional organs. Further studies led by Takeichi showed that cadherin function is supported by a number of cytoplasmic proteins, including catenins, and that their cooperation is essential for shaping of tissues.

The discovery of cadherins, which are found in all multicellular animal species, has allowed us to interpret how multicellular systems are generated and regulated. The knowledge of cadherin functions is expected to contribute to the development of effective treatments against diseases involving abnormal cell behavior like cancer.

Takeichi said, “I am very pleased to be receiving the Canada Gairdner International Award with a group of respected scientists whom I have known for a long time. By chance, the announcement of the award coincides with the last day of my laboratory. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported my research up to this day, particularly the many graduate students, researchers and lab staff who made substantial contributions over the years, and share this honor with them. And I hope that our discoveries can be used to further unveil life’s mysteries as well as help improve our lives.”

The Canada Gairdner Awards are awarded by The Gairdner Foundation, which was established in 1957 and recognizes world-renowned scientists for transformative contributions to research that impact human health. Takeichi and the other recipients will receive the award in a ceremony scheduled to be held on October 20, 2020, in Toronto, Canada.

Masatoshi Takeichi is Team Leader*1 at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) and Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University. He completed the B.Sc. and M.Sc. programs in biology at Nagoya University before going on to receive a doctorate in biophysics from Kyoto University in 1973. After attaining his Ph.D., Dr. Takeichi took a research fellowship to study at the Carnegie Institute Department of Embryology under Dr. Richard Pagano. He then returned to Kyoto University where he was appointed full professor in the Department of Biophysics (1986-1999), and later professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Graduate School of Biostudies at the same university. He assumed directorship of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in 2000, until resigning from this position in 2014. He served or is serving as editorial members for a number of prestigious academic journals, including Cell, Neuron, Developmental Cell, and EMBO Journal, and has received many honors or awards, such as the Ross Harrison Prize (2001), Japan Prize (2005) and Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate (2012). He is a member of the Japan Academy, a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), and an associate member of EMBO.

*1 Takeichi’s position will change to Honorary Scientist of RIKEN and Senior Visiting Scientist of RIKEN BDR on April 1, 2020.

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Canada Gairdner International Award