What Tonegawa' s Nobel Doesn't Mean

In the wake of the news that Susumu Tonegawa of MIT had been chosen as the 1987 Nobel laureate in medicine (See THE SCIENTIST, November 2, 1987, P. 4), an article by Stephen Kreider Yoder appeared in the Wall Street Journal (October 14, 1987, p. 30) under the headline “Native Son’s Nobel Award Is Japan’s Loss: Scientist’s Prize Points Up Research System’s Failings.” The writer asserted that Tonegawa’s prize is “as much an embarrassment as a victo

Eugene Garfield
Nov 15, 1987

In the wake of the news that Susumu Tonegawa of MIT had been chosen as the 1987 Nobel laureate in medicine (See THE SCIENTIST, November 2, 1987, P. 4), an article by Stephen Kreider Yoder appeared in the Wall Street Journal (October 14, 1987, p. 30) under the headline “Native Son’s Nobel Award Is Japan’s Loss: Scientist’s Prize Points Up Research System’s Failings.” The writer asserted that Tonegawa’s prize is “as much an embarrassment as a victory for Japan’s research community [and] illustrates the dire shortcomings of Japan’s research system.” (See “Japan’s Embarrassing Victory “p. 24.) This conclusion stems from Tonegawa’s personal history. Although he earned a B.S. degree from Kyoto University in 1963, he left the country thereafter and has studied and worked outside Japan ever since. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 1968, was a postdoctoral fellow there from 1968-1969, a...

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