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Symposium to Honor Groundbreaking Autophagy Researcher Yoshinori Ohsumi

The scientific discoveries of Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi have paved the way for potential improvements to treatments for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, bacterial and viral infections, and more.

Published September 12, 2016

NEW YORK, September 12, 2016 — On September 22, the New York Academy of Sciences will host a scientific symposium honoring the 2016 winner of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research Yoshinori Ohsumi, PhD, Professor, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, titled Understanding Autophagy to Enhance Clinical Discovery: The 2016 Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium.

Being held at the New York Academy of Medicine, the symposium will recognize Dr. Ohsumi's groundbreaking research into the molecular mechanisms and physiological significance of autophagy, which laid the foundation for understanding the synthesis and degradation of intracellular components. Dr. Ohsumi demonstrated that autophagy is an essential process for cellular maintenance, repair, and energy generation under stress conditions, including starvation. Employing a diverse set of molecular and biochemical techniques, he demonstrated that ubiquitin signaling targets cellular components to the lysosome for recycling.

These discoveries have great potential to improve treatments for diseases, as more recent studies have found that autophagy plays a role in development, response to bacterial and viral infections, immunity, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

"Dr. Ohsumi's discoveries significantly advanced the understanding of autophagy — one of the most basic functions of all living cells," said Paul Stoffels, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. "His discoveries hold promise for better understanding, preventing and treating many diseases. It is with great pleasure that we honor his contributions, and celebrate the power of scientific innovation to advance human health."

At the symposium Dr. Ohsumi will present the Award Lecture, reflecting on his initial work on the key players in autophagy, and sharing his vision for future advancements in the field.

Following Dr. Ohsumi's presentation, Beth Levine, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will speak on "Potential Therapeutic Targets in Autophagy," Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will speak on "The Role of Chaperone-mediated Autophagy in the Fight Against Aging and Age-Related Diseases," Eric H. Baehrecke, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, will discuss "Ouroboros, Autophagy, Cell Health and Cell Death," and Matthias Versele, PhD, Janssen Research & Development, will also speak on "Discovery of Autophagy Inhibitors." To conclude the event, all speakers will participate in a panel discussion on "The Future of Autophagy Research."

"It is my great honor to receive the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for this year," said Dr. Ohsumi. "Recently I have learned about Dr. Paul Janssen, and I was really moved by his dedication and great achievements. I am, in essence, a basic researcher, but my dream has always been that our basic work using yeast contributes to the development of human society, our understanding of health, and ability to overcome disease."

For press inquiries, including press passes to the conference, please contact Margaret Ceres at

About The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research was established by Johnson & Johnson to honor the memory of Dr. Paul Janssen — one of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate pharmaceutical researchers. He helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines. The winners of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award are chosen by an independent selection committee of the world's most renowned scientists. Learn more at

About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at


Marie Gentile
Director, Communications