Shigekazu Nagata, University of Kyoto, Japan
Professor Shigekazu Nagata made extraordinary achievements in discovering the first cell surface receptor, the triggering of which initiates the apoptotic cell death program in our cells. He cloned its ligand and demonstrated that the ligand can act in both membrane bound and soluble forms. He contributed to the discovery, which described that cytotoxic T cells use Fas ligand to kill virally infected and tumor cells. He described that in the absence of Fas or Fas ligand autoimmunity develops, as the Fas/Fas ligand system contributes to the inhibition of the formation of the autoimmune clones, as well as to the death of the already useless immune cells at the end of the immune response.