Japanese Nobel Prize winner calls for more investment in basic science

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/10/5 16:30:02

Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi, winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, has said that Japan shall invest more in fundamental scientific studies while being wary of an inclination of "hollowness" in scientific research.

Ohsumi won the prize for his discovery on the mechanism of autophagy, which could open up the possibility of new treatments for illnesses including cancer.

He said at a press conference that he is having a strong sense of crisis, as scientific research in Japan is "hollowing out", with the number of young researchers decreasing and the funding for basic scientific research, especially for the work of young researchers, "absolutely insufficient."

Ohsumi said that the society is attaching more importance to applied science while fundamental scientific studies is not given enough attention and scientists often face pressure to achieve quick results "that are useful."

Some achievements in fundamental scientific studies may not prove "useful" for another 100 years. If scientists are pressured to engage only in studies that can be "useful", "basic science will become extinct," he said.

He hopes that Japan could establish a system that could support long-term research of young scientists.

71-year-old Ohsumi is currently a professor emeritus at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.He received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Science in 2012.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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