The 2012 Japan Prize, one of the world's most prestigious science and technology honors, has been awarded to three American medical experts who are fighting cancer as well as to a Japanese inventor whose magnet technology has implications for energy conservation.
In years past, the prize has honored networking and computing accomplishments, including last year, when Unix inventors Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were honored, and in 2008 when Internet pioneers Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn took home the prize. Tim Berners-Lee won in 2002 for his work on the World Wide Web.
This year's prize for Healthcare and Medical Technology went to American medical experts, Janet Rowley, M.D., Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and Human Genetics of the University of Chicago; Brian Druker, M.D., Director of the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute; and Nicholas Lydon, Ph.D., Founder and Director of Blueprint Medicines. They were recognized for their contributions to the "development of a new therapeutic drug targeting cancer-specific molecules," called Imatinib.
Separately, Japan's Masato Sagawa, president of Intermetallics Co., was honored with the prize for Environment, Energy and Infrastructure for "developing the world's highest-performing neodymium-iron-boron (Nd-Fe-B) type permanent magnet and contributing to energy conservation."
2012 Japan Prize laureates will each receive a certificate of recognition and a commemorative gold medal at an award ceremony during Japan Prize Week in Tokyo on April 25. A cash award of $650,000 will also be given to each field (the Americans will split their prize).
2013 prizes will be awarded in the fields of Materials, Production and separately, Biological Production, Biological Environment. The Japan Prizes have been given out since 1985.