Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology to be awarded to Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Japan

Paris, 14 December—Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka (Japan) has been designated as the laureate of the 2015 Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology, which will be awarded to him on 21 December in a ceremony at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, in Havana.

Director of the International Research Center for Infectious Diseases at the University of Tokyo and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Yoshihiro Kawaoka is an internationally recognized expert on the influenza and Ebola viruses. He receives the Prize in recognition of his overall contribution to microbiology. 

The gene technology he developed has allowed for the creation of flu vaccines for some viruses, notably those that can cause pandemics. Moreover, the technology involved has benefitted fundamental research and improved our understanding of the flu and Ebola viruses. 

Professor Kawaoka was designated by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, on the recommendation of an international jury of experts in microbiology. The members of the Jury are: 

  • Prof Serge Eholié, Co-Director, INSERM International Research Centre, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Prof Rashika El Ridi, Professor of Immunology, Science Faculty, Cairo University, Egypt
  • Prof Marie-Lise Gougeon. Director, Department of Infections and Epidemiology, Pasteur Institute, Paris, France
  • Prof María Guadalupe Guzmán. Director, Department of Virology, Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine, Havana, Cuba
  • Prof Nilanthi Renuka de Silva. Dean and Professor Emeritus of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. President of the Jury.

The Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology consists of a $10,000 award. It was established by UNESCO in 1977 at the initiative of the Government of Cuba. The Prize rewards scientists whose research has made an outstanding contribution to microbiology. It is awarded for the first time in ten years.