KYOTO, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Inamori Foundation today announced the 30th annual Kyoto Prize laureates: two pioneering researchers from the U.S. and one Japanese artist. Dr. Robert Langer, a biomedical engineer and Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will receive the Advanced Technology prize in the field of Biotechnology and Medical Technology; Dr. Edward Witten, Charles Simonyi Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), will receive the Basic Sciences prize in the field of Mathematical Sciences; and artist Fukumi Shimura, designated by the Japanese government as a “living national treasure,” will receive the Arts and Philosophy prize in the field of Arts.
The Kyoto Prize is Japan’s highest private award for global achievement, created by noted philanthropist Dr. Kazuo Inamori. At a November 10, 2014 ceremony in Kyoto, Japan, each laureate will receive a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately $500,000).
The 2014 Kyoto Prize Laureates
Biomedical engineer Dr. Robert Langer, 65, is a founder of the field of tissue engineering and creator of revolutionary drug delivery system (DDS) technologies. Tissue engineering is indispensable for the implementation of regenerative medicine. Dr. Langer’s technique applies biodegradable polymer technologies to construct “scaffolds” for cell growth, contributing to the regeneration of tissues and organs. He has also developed DDS technologies for the controlled release of proteins, nucleic acids, and other macromolecular drugs. He holds more than 800 patents and is actively involved in promoting the practical application of his discoveries as a leader in the interdisciplinary advancement of medicine and engineering.
Theoretical physicist Dr. Edward Witten, 62, has made outstanding contributions to mathematical science through his exploration of superstring theory. Dr. Witten has served as a leader in the theory’s dramatic evolution for more than 30 years. Superstring theory seeks to unify scientific understanding of the various physical forces that exist within the universe, offering promise to create what physicists have termed a “theory of everything” — one all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework that offers an integrative perspective of how our universe is constructed. By applying his physical intuition and mathematical skills, Dr. Witten has advanced not only the study of physics, but also mathematics, inspiring new and cutting-edge research by many mathematicians worldwide.
Artist Ms. Fukumi Shimura, 89, has demonstrated artistic creativity for over half a century in her work with tsumugi kimonos. One of the characteristics of her work is her insistence on using very particular colors and plant dyes. Utilizing an extraordinarily colorful range of plant-dyed yarns as her visual vocabulary, and unleashing her imagination to improvise an infinite resonance of colors over canvases of tsumugi kimonos, she established her own original style of art and developed a radically new sense of beauty. To create a wide variety of colors that look virtually natural, she has constantly communicated with nature and deeply meditated “to weave human existence into nature.” She remains actively engaged in all aspects of her art, dedicating great effort to educating the younger generation. She founded an art school, Ars Shimura, together with her daughter Yoko last year. The school is a medium through which to show her “respect for, and appreciation of, nature” to the youth of the world. It is this sense of mission that drove her to move forward and take on new challenges even in her late 80s.
About the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize
The Kyoto Prize is an international award bestowed by the non-profit Inamori Foundation to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of humankind. The Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corporation, founder of and honorary adviser to KDDI Corporation, and chairman emeritus of Japan Airlines. Inamori created the Kyoto Prize in 1985, in line with his belief that human beings have no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth. With the 2014 laureates, the prize has honored 96 individuals and one foundation — collectively representing 16 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients (41), followed by Japan (17), the United Kingdom (12), and France (8). More information can be found at http://www.inamori-f.or.jp/index_e.html.