American Computer Scientist, U.S.-based Indian Literary Critic and Japanese Biologist Named as 28th Kyoto Prize Laureates


KYOTO, JAPAN — June 22, 2012 — The Inamori Foundation today announced the 28th annual Kyoto Prize laureates, with two selected from the U.S. and one from Japan.  Dr. Ivan Edward Sutherland, an American computer scientist, will receive the Advanced Technology Prize in the field of Information Science; Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese molecular cell biologist, will receive the Basic Sciences Prize in the field of Life Science; and Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, an Indian literary critic and educator, will receive the Arts and Philosophy Prize in the field of Thought and Ethics.

The Kyoto Prize is an international award bestowed by The Inamori Foundation to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of humankind. Each laureate will receive a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately US$630,000) in recognition of lifelong contributions to society at a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan on November 10, 2012. The Inamori Foundation was started by noted philanthropist Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation and KDDI Corporation, and director and chairman emeritus of Japan Airlines. Including this year’s laureates, 90 individuals and one organization (The Nobel Foundation) have been honored with the Kyoto Prize.

The 2012 Kyoto Prize Laureates
Dr. Ivan Sutherland, 74, is an American computer scientist and visiting scientist at Portland State University. He is widely regarded as the “Father of Computer Graphics” for his lifetime of pioneering work in developing visual methods of interacting with computers. Dr. Sutherland is perhaps best known for developing Sketchpad in 1963, a graphical interface program that allowed the user to directly manipulate figures on a screen through a pointing device. Sketchpad’s interactive interface was years ahead of its time; today’s computer-aided design (CAD) systems are just one common example of how this innovation has contributed to the field. Numerous computer graphic-based applications – ranging from films, games and virtual reality systems to educational materials, scientific and technological simulations, and other design aids for engineers – are descendants of Dr. Sutherland’s original work on Sketchpad.

Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi*, 67, is a Japanese scientist, researcher and professor who has made groundbreaking contributions toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms and physiological significance of autophagy, demonstrating how a cell degrades its own proteins in order to adapt to nutritional deficiency and other influences. Autophagy is now regarded as a vital cell-recycling system and may aid in future developments to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and other age-related ailments. Dr. Ohsumi is currently a professor at the Frontier Research Center of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he and his colleagues continue their world-leading work in autophagy.

Professor Gayatri Spivak*, 70, is an Indian intellectual, activist, and University Professor at Columbia University (the highest honor for professors at Columbia), where she is also a founder of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. She exemplifies the modern intellectual through her theoretical work for the humanities based on comparative literature and her devotion to multifaceted educational activities, especially in developing regions. Her work often focuses on those marginalized by a dominant western culture, including the new immigrant, the working class and women, among others. She is perhaps best known for her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” which spotlights those who are economically dispossessed, forcibly marginalized and rendered without agency by their social status. 

About the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize
The non-profit Inamori Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corporation, founder of and honorary adviser to KDDI Corporation, and director and chairman emeritus of Japan Airlines. The Foundation created the Kyoto Prize in 1985, in line with Dr. Inamori’s belief that a human being has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth. With the 2012 laureates, the prize has honored 90 individuals and one foundation — collectively representing 15 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients (36), followed by Japan (16), the United Kingdom (12), and France (8).  More information can be found at


* Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi: Yo-shee-nor-ee Oh-soo-mee
* Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Guy-ah-tree Chah-krah-vor-tee Spee-vahk


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