International Prize for Biology


International Prize for Biology
Awarded forOutstanding contribution to the advancement of research in fundamental biology
Country Japan
Presented byJapan Society for the Promotion of Science
First awarded1985

The International Prize for Biology (国際生物学賞, Kokusai Seibutsugaku-shō) is an annual award for "outstanding contribution to the advancement of research in fundamental biology." The Prize, although it is not always awarded to a biologist, is one of the most prestigious honours a natural scientist can receive. There are no restrictions on the nationality of the recipient.

Past laureates include John B. Gurdon, Motoo Kimura, Edward O. Wilson, Ernst Mayr, Thomas Cavalier-Smith, Yoshinori Ohsumi and many other great biologists in the world.


Emperor Shōwa

The International Prize of Biology was created in 1985 to commemorate the 60-year reign of Emperor Shōwa of Japan and his longtime interest in and support of "Biology." The selection and award of the prize is managed by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The laureate is awarded a beautiful medal, 10 million yen, and an international symposium on the scientist's area of research is held in Tokyo.[1] The prize ceremony is held in the presence of Emperor of Japan.

The first International Prize for Biology was awarded to E. J. H. Corner, who was a prominent scientist in the field of systematic biology, because Emperor Shōwa was interested in and worked on this field for long time.


The Prize is awarded in accordance with the following criteria:

  • The Prize shall be made by the Committee every year, commencing in 1985.
  • The Prize shall consist of a medal and a prize of ten million (10,000,000) yen.
  • There shall be no restrictions on the nationality of the recipient.
  • The Prize shall be awarded to an individual who, in the judgment of the members of the Committee, has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of research in fundamental biology.
  • The specialty within the field of biology for which the Prize will be awarded shall be decided upon annually by the Committee.
  • The Committee shall be advised on suitable candidates for the Prize by a selection committee, which will consist of Japanese and overseas members.
  • The selection committee shall invite nominations of candidates from such relevant individuals and organizations at home and abroad as the selection committee may deem appropriate.
  • The selection committee shall submit to the Committee a report containing recommendations of the candidate for the Prize and supporting statement.
  • The Prize shall be presented every year. In conjunction with the ceremony, an international symposium is held in which the Prize recipient is invited to give a special lecture.


Emperor Akihito

The Emperors of Japan have been famous for their special interest in science, in particular biology. Emperor Akihito has strived over many years to advance the study taxonomy of gobioid fishes.[2]

It was a particularly charming moment when Emperor of Japan, Akihito, who has studied the taxonomy and evolution of gobioid fishes, mentioned in his congratulatory address during the award ceremony that he has used the neighbor-joining method to construct phylogenetic trees during his studies of these fishes.

— Professor Masatoshi Nei, the 2002 International Prize for Biology Laureate [3]


Source: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Year Laureate Nationality Field
1985 E. J. H. Corner  United Kingdom Taxonomy or Systematic Biology
1986 Peter H. Raven  United States Systematic Biology and Taxonomy
1987 John B. Gurdon  United Kingdom Developmental Biology
1988 Motoo Kimura  Japan Population Biology
1989 Eric James Denton  United Kingdom Marine Biology
1990 Masakazu Konishi  Japan Behavioral Biology
1991 Marshall D. Hatch  Australia Functional Botany
1992 Knut Schmidt-Nielsen  Norway

 United States

Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry
1993 Edward O. Wilson  United States Ecology
1994 Ernst Mayr  Germany

 United States

Systematic Biology and Taxonomy
1995 Ian R. Gibbons  United Kingdom Cell Biology
1996 Ryuzo Yanagimachi  Japan Biology of Reproduction
1997 Elliot Martin Meyerowitz  United States Botany
1998 Otto Thomas Solbrig  Argentina Biology of Biodiversity
1999 Setsuro Ebashi  Japan Animal Physiology
2000 Seymour Benzer  United States Developmental Biology
2001 Harry B. Whittington  United Kingdom Paleontology
2002 Masatoshi Nei  United States Evolutionary Biology
2003 Shinya Inoué  United States Cell Biology
2004 Thomas Cavalier-Smith  United Kingdom Systematic Biology and Taxonomy
2005 Nam-Hai Chua  United Kingdom Structural Biology in Fine Structure, Morphology and Morphogenesis
2006 Serge Daan  Netherlands Chronobiology
2007 David Swenson Hogness  United States Genetics
2008 David Tilman  United States Ecology
2009 Winslow Briggs  United States Botany
2010 Nancy A. Moran  United States Biology of Symbiosis
2011 Eric H. Davidson  United States Developmental Biology[4]
2012 Joseph Altman  United States Neurobiology[5]
2013 Joseph Felsenstein  United States Biology of Evolution[6]
2014 Peter Crane  United Kingdom Biology of Biodiversity[7]
2015 Yoshinori Ohsumi  Japan Cell Biology[8]
2016 Stephen P. Hubbell  United States Biology of Biodiversity[9]
2017 Rita R. Colwell  United States Marine Biology[10]
2018 Andrew H. Knoll  United States Earth and Planetary Sciences
2019 Naomi Pierce  United States Biology of Insects[11]

See also

External links

  • International Prize for Biology


  1. ^ About the Prize
  2. ^ Mohri, Hideo (2019). "The International Prize for Biology". Imperial Biologists. Imperial Biologists: The Imperial Family of Japan and Their Contributions to Biological Research. Springer Biographies. Springer. pp. 177–194. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-6756-4_4. ISBN 978-981-13-6756-4.
  3. ^ Nei Honored in Japan with International Prize for Biology
  4. ^ "Eric Davidson Awarded the International Prize for Biology". Archived from the original on 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  5. ^ Laboratory History | Neuron Development
  6. ^ Past Recipients
  7. ^ Dean Peter Crane Wins Prestigious International Prize for Biology
  8. ^ Yoshinori Ohsumi Wins 2015 International Prize For Biology
  9. ^ UCLA professor Stephen Hubbell wins International Prize for Biology
  10. ^ UMD's Colwell Awarded 2017 International Prize for Biology
  11. ^ The 35th (2019) International Prize for Biology is awarded to Dr. Naomi Ellen Pierce