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Japanese cellular biologist wins Nobel prize for study of autophagy

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5374 (Published 04 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5374
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. Seattle

Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cellular biologist, has been awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for his work elucidating how cells break down and recycle obsolete or damaged macromolecules and organelles. The process—called autophagy, from the Greek words auto and phagein, meaning “self eating”—has a vital role in cellular metabolism in health and disease.

“Autophagy has been known for over 50 years,” the Nobel committee noted in its announcement of the award, “but its fundamental importance in physiology and medicine was only recognised after Yoshinori Ohsumi’s paradigm shifting research in the 1990s.” The award, …

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