2022 ICIS-Pfizer Award for Excellence in Cytokine & Interferon Research (formerly the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award from 1988 – 2020)
Akihiko Yoshimura, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
Professor Yoshimura has been chosen as the 2022 ICIS-Pfizer Award for Excellence in Cytokine & Interferon Research, the society’s most prestigious award, in recognition of his outstanding discoveries in the field of cytokine biology that have transformed human medicine. Professor Yoshimura’s ground breaking discoveries have played an important role in inflammation, allergy, autoimmune diseases, and tumor immunity, improving our understanding of the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases.
In Dr. Yoshimura early investigations into the molecular and cellular mechanisms of immune regulation, he first described pp130 tyrosine phosphorylated protein associated with the erythropoietin receptor in 1992, which was subsequently identified as JAK2. This discovery was one of the foundations for the eventual development of the JAK inhibitors that have transformed human medicine.
Dr. Yoshimura’s work on this aspect of cytokine signaling continued and he discovered the CIS/SOCS family, inhibitors of the cytokine signaling pathway. CIS (CISH in human) is the first member in this family discovered by Dr. Yoshimura as a cytokine-inducible SH2 protein in 1995 (Embo and then Nature in 1997). This is the first demonstration of the existence of a negative regulatory mechanism in the cytokine receptor signaling, and has since been shown to play an important role in inflammation, allergy, autoimmune diseases, and tumor immunity.
Other areas of cytokine signaling have been advanced by Dr. Yoshimura such as his discovery of the SPRED family which is the inhibitor of the Ras/ERK pathway, another important cytokine signaling pathway. Notably, his group discovered that human SPRED1 is the gene responsible for a disease related to neurofibroblastomatosis type I (Nature, 2001). Human genetic analysis has shown that SOCS family members are strongly associated with autoimmune diseases, allergies, and tumorigenesis, and SPRED1 is involved in NF1-like syndromes and tumors. He has also discovered a NR4a transcriptional gene family, (Nature Communications 2011 and Nature Immunology 2013) which has been shown to suppress cytokine expression and induce immune-regulators and to play important role in immune tolerance and T cell exhaustion. These studies are part of an extensive body of work that includes more than 400 original papers, which have been cited more than 65,000 times and an H-index of 135.
Akihiko Yoshimura received his B.S. in Biophysics in 1981, an MS and then PhD in Cell Biology in 1986 from Kyoto University. He was Assistant Professor at Oita Medical School, Oita, Japan from 1985-1987 and did a postdoctoral research fellowship at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research from 1989-1991 while joining Kagoshima University as Associate Professor from 1989-1995. From 1995 – 2000 he was a Professor at the at Insutitute of Life Science, Kurume University before joining the Medical Institute of Bioregulation, Kyushu University as Professor from 2001-2008. Since 2008 he has been Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at Keio University of Medicine in Tokyo.
Dr. Yoshimura has received many awards including the 2001 Japanese Society of Immunology Award, the 2007 Mochida Memorial Award, the 2007 Samuro Kakiuchi Memorial Award from the Japanese Biochemistry Society, the 2020 Uehara Prize and he recently received the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 2021 for his long-term contribution to cytokine research and now with the 2022 ICIS-Pfizer Award for Excellence in Cytokine & Interferon Research, ICIS recognizes this outstanding cytokine biologist.
2022 ICIS-Pfizer Award for Excellence in Cytokine & Interferon Research Presentation
Professor Yoshimura will give his ICIS-Pfizer Award Presentation at Cytokines 2022 Hybrid Meeting in the Opening Session on Tuesday, 20 September on “SOCS, SPRED, and NR4a; Negative regulators of cytokine signaling and transcription in immune tolerance“
The Pfizer Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research (formerly the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award from 1988 – 2020), represents the pinnacle of scientific achievement in interferon and cytokine research since 1988, two years after interferon was first approved for the treatment of hairy cell leukemia. Since that time, it has been widely recognized that interferons and the larger class of cytokines play critical roles in the development and progression of many major diseases including cancer, viral diseases such as hepatitis and influenza, and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and lupus. For more details, list of Award Laureates, please click here.