Satoshi Omura PhD
Distinguished Emeritus Professor
Special Coordinator, Drug Discovery from Natural Products, Kitasato University
Prof. Satoshi Ōmura received an M.S. degree in 1963 from Tokyo University of Science, followed by a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1968 from the University of Tokyo, and another in Chemistry two years later from the Tokyo University of Science. His first position was as a Research Associate at University of Yamanashi (1963-1965). In 1965 he began his career-long association with the Kitasato Institute, initially as a researcher, over the years occupying various posts, culminating in his appointment in 1990 as President. He served as President Emeritus of The Kitasato Institute (2008-2012), and is currently a Distinguished Emeritus Professor and Special Coordinator of the Research Project for Drug Discovery from Natural Products in the Kitasato Institute for Life Sciences, Kitasato University. He was also appointed as inaugural Max Tishler Professor of Chemistry at Wesleyan University (USA) in 2005.
Commencing with his studies in Organic Chemistry at the Tokyo University of Science, from 1965 onwards he has performed comprehensive research on Bioorganic Chemistry, focusing on bioactive substances of microbial origin. He devised several innovative new methods for isolating and culturing microorganisms and established many original methods of screening for bioactive substances. As a result, he has discovered more than 470 novel bioactive compounds. Among them, the globally significant anthelmintic antibiotic avermectin and its derivatives, seen by many to rival penicillin in their impact on global health, were discovered through collaborative research with Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories (USA), his group eventually deciphering the entire genome of the producing organism, Streptomyces avermectinius.
Prof. Ōmura has been widely recognized in the natural-products chemistry field, as evidenced by his numerous awards and honors. Among these are the Hoechst-Roussel Award from American Society for Microbiology, Charles Thom Award (Society for Industrial Microbiology, USA), Robert Koch Gold Medal (Germany), Prince Mahidol Award (Thailand), Nakanishi Prize of Japan Chemical Society and the American Chemical Society, Ernest Gunther Award of the American Chemical Society, Hamao Umezawa Memorial Award of the International Society of Chemotherapy, Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, Arima Award of the International Union of Microbiology, and the Japan Academy Prize. He has been decorated with France’s L’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur Chevalier in 2007, and also has been designated by Japan in 2012 as a highly-prestigious Person of Cultural Merit.