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2017 Japan Prize Honors Trailblazers in Life Science and Cryptography
Date:2/2/2017

TOKYO, Feb. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Central to its deep commitment to honor the most innovative and meaningful advances worldwide, The Japan Prize Foundation today announced the laureates of the 2017 Japan Prize, who have pushed the envelope in their respective fields of Life Sciences and Electronics, Information and Communication. Three scientists are being recognized with the 2017 Japan Prize for original and outstanding achievements that not only contribute to the advancement of science and technology, but also promote peace and prosperity for all mankind.

Emmanuelle Charpentier, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, and visiting professor at Umeå University, Sweden, and Jennifer Doudna, Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, are being honored for deciphering the molecular details of the type II bacterial immune system CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)-Cas and the creation of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system, a truly revolutionary technique in genetic engineering, far more economical and faster than those previously available.

This overwhelmingly simple technique enables scientists to cut the DNA of any organism at arbitrary locations and edit freely by means of removing, replacing or insertion. It was adopted at an explosive pace as a research tool in the life sciences, and is now being applied to research in a wide range of fields, such as agriculture, biofuels, drug development and medicine, and in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome to treat and cure genetic causes of disease.

Together, Charpentier and Doudna received the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; the 2015 Gruber Foundation International Prize in Genetics; the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research; and the L'Oreal Unesco for Women in Science Award 2016.

The advent of open digital networks, namely the Internet, has enabled us to lead infinitely more convenient lives. The ease and comfort which we take for granted today has been made possible due to security measures that prevent the theft and manipulation of valuable data. It is Dr. Adi Shamir who proposed many of the these underlying concepts in information security and developed a series of practical solutions. 

Dr. Shamir is the Borman Professor of Computer Science at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and an internationally-recognized cryptographer. His achievements range from the development of the "RSA cryptosystem," an innovative encryption technique utilizing mathematical methodology, to the proposal of the "secret sharing scheme," which ensures secrecy by breaking up classified information into parts and dispersing it among several individuals; the "identification and signature schemes" through which individuals can be identified without revealing secret information; and the generic "differential cryptanalysis," which deciphers common key cryptosystems.

Dr. Shamir has also made significant breakthroughs in the research of side-channel attacks, which decipher code by monitoring the physical information of the computer carrying out the encryption, such as power consumption and noise. By developing cryptosystems which form the basis of information security, Dr. Shamir has paved the way to the fast and convenient open digital network environment that we take for granted today. These remarkable achievements have transformed cryptography into the modern academic discipline of cryptology.

To honor Professor Charpentier, Dr. Doudna, and Dr. Shamir, the Japan Prize Foundation will host an award ceremony on April 19, 2017 in Tokyo. Each laureate will receive a certificate of recognition and a commemorative gold medal. A cash award of 50 million Japanese yen (approximately US $420,000) will also be given to each laureate. The Japan Prize is highly competitive: the nomination process ends in February, and, every year from March to November, the Foundation considers the nominations of 13,000 prominent scientists and researchers from around the world.

About the Japan Prize Foundation
The Japan Prize is awarded to scientists and researchers, regardless of nationality, who have made significant contributions to the progress of science and technology, as well as society, to further the peace and prosperity of mankind. While the prize encompasses all fields of science, two fields are designated for the Japan Prize each year. Since its inception in 1985, the Japan Prize Foundation has awarded the Japan Prize to 86 laureates from 13 countries. For additional details about the Japan Prize Foundation and its activities, please visit http://www.japanprize.jp/en.

CONTACT: Sakura Amend, 212-715-1611, sakura.amend@finnpartners.com

 

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