Professor Kenya Honda of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the Keio University School of Medicine (Tokyo), team leader of the Laboratory for Gut Homeostasis of the Riken Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (Yokohama), has been designated as the laureate of the 2020 Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology. The Prize recognizes his outstanding contribution to the field of microbiology, more particularly for his research into microbiota and its impact on the immune system in various diseases.
Dr. Honda’s research group has developed and perfected a top-down gnotobiotic pipeline that integrates highly efficient anaerobic culture techniques with next generation sequencing and gnotobiotic animal models. This enables the direct screening and testing of effector microbes, as gut microbiota members often cooperate as a community to produce metabolites that affect host physiology. Dr Honda has thus been able to identify microbiota members that drive specific types of adaptive immune responses.
Professor Honda was named by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the basis of recommendations of an international jury composed of experts in microbiology. Created in 1977 at the initiative of the Government of Cuba, the UNESCO Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology is endowed with 10,000 dollars.