Nobel laureates meet college students

Japanese Nobel laureates Tasuku Honjo and Shinya Yamanaka spoke to Kyoto University students on pursuing a career in scientific research.

Honjo of Kyoto University is the co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Yamanaka, also of Kyoto University, received the same prize in 2012. It is the first time the two scientists have spoken in public since Honjo received this year's prize.

More than 80 students studying medicine or pharmaceuticals participated in the event hosted by Kyoto University on Thursday.

Honjo first spoke about a pending problem. He said that if immune therapy could be applied to cancer patients at an earlier stage in their treatment, it would reduce their burden, as anticancer drugs and radiation therapy weaken the immune system.

Yamanaka spoke about how he got involved in research. He said he initially became an orthopedist, but was tremendously excited by unexpected results produced by a drug that was tested on mice.

In a message to students, Honjo said one needs to have curiosity in order to succeed as a research scientist. He advised students to determine what they want to do and what they are good at when making their choices.

Yamanaka said that now is a good opportunity to become involved in research, as cancer is becoming curable.
A female medical student said she felt the warmth of the two scientists, who both had their own unique interests. She said it made her think about the path she should take.