Yoshinori Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for his discovery of mechanisms for degrading and recycling cellular components, the award-giving body said on Monday.

"Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement in awarding the prize of 8 million Swedish crowns ($933,000).

"His discoveries opened the path to understanding ... many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection," the statement added.ino

Who is Yoshinori Osumi?

Yoshinori Ohsumi is Japanese cell biologist who specializes in autophagy.  Born in 1945 in Fukuoka, Japan. Ohsumi received a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo in 1974. After spending three years at Rockefeller University, New York, USA, he returned to the University of Tokyo where he established his research group in 1988. He is since 2009 a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

In 2012, he received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Science 

What is his contribution?

Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease.

The prize for Physiology or Medicine is the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. Prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.

(With inputs from nobelprize.org and Reuters)

(Feature image source: Twitter| Wired Italia)