Extraordinary individuals celebrated at the first ever Kyoto Prize at Oxford

Monday, 15 May 2017

Some of the finest global minds –  the scientist responsible for the development of immunotherapy, the philosopher who created a new theory of social justice, and the roboticist who revolutionised computer vision – were celebrated at the inaugural Kyoto Prize at Oxford event.

The School hosted the three 2016 Kyoto Prize Laureates – medical scientist Dr Tasuku Honjo, philosopher Dr Martha Nussbaum, and roboticist Dr Takeo Kanade – for inspiring public talks, academic workshops and other activities engaging the whole of the University of Oxford.

We were delighted to welcome Dr Kazuo Inamori, founder of the Inamori Foundation and of the Kyoto Prize, who delivered a lecture entitled “From a society of greed to a society of altruism”. The Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Patten of Barnes, welcomed him to the prestigious Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors, a formal recognition of his generosity to the University.

The lecture was followed by the official naming of the Blavatnik School of Government’s forum space – which is now known as the Inamori Forum.

A crucial part of bringing the Kyoto Prize to Oxford is the opportunity to engage with an array of academics, researchers and students from the various departments and faculties of the University of Oxford. Therefore, the Department of Engineering Science hosted Dr Kanade for a visit, Dr Nussbaum held an open session attended by graduate students from Philosophy, Law, Politics and Social Policy, and Dr Honjo spend some time at the Dunn School of Pathology and Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.

The second day saw the three public lectures from the Laureates:

  • Dr Tasuku Honjo (2016 Kyoto Prize Laureate for Basic Sciences) with Serendipities of acquired immunity, in which he explained the breakthroughs that led to his discovery that the molecule PD-1 could be effective in treating cancer.
  • Dr Martha Craven Nussbaum (2016 Kyoto Prize Laureate for Arts and Philosophy) with Ageing, stigma, and disgust in which she argued that stigma against ageing people is a social problem that generates unhappiness and injustice.
  • Dr Takeo Kanade (2016 Kyoto Prize Laureate for Advanced Technology) with Think like an amateur, do as an expert: Fun research in computer vision and robotics in which he talked about his experience as a roboticist, from developing the first autonomously-driven cars to the EyeVision system used for 360-degree sports broadcasting.

The Kyoto Prize at Oxford is the result of the collaboration between the University of Oxford and Japan’s Inamori Foundation that draws on the shared values of the two organisations.

The recordings of all the lectures are available on www.kyotoprize.ox.ac.uk and on the Blavatnik School of Government YouTube channel.

The Kyoto Prize Laureates for 2017 will soon be announced - keep an eye on the Kyoto Prize at Oxford website for news and updates, or follow @Kyotoprizeox on Twitter.

All images by John Cairns.