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Honjo hopes Nobel Prize win will attract young med school grads to basic research

Kyoto University distinguished professor Tasuku Honjo attends a press conference after he was announced as the joint winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, at the university in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward on Oct. 1, 2018. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira)

KYOTO -- Kyoto University distinguished professor Tasuku Honjo would be happy if his Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "serves as an opportunity for young medical school graduates to get interested in basic research," he said in a one-on-one interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Oct. 1.

Asked to describe his personal adage when it came to research, Honjo wrote four Chinese characters meaning "With Will, You Succeed." The phrase, which appears in the Book of the Later Han compiled in the fifth century, is attributed to Chinese Han dynasty emperor Guangwu.

"Failure is the norm in scientific experiments, so you should not let yourself feel down every time you fail," said Honjo. "Nothing is impossible. I have done my work in the belief that there is always a way."

Honjo also expressed concerns about a substantial decline in the number of people who commit themselves to basic research after their graduation from medical school. "People no longer pursue their dreams in basic research," he said, seeking to spark the interest of young scientists and calling for the need to prepare an academic environment for them.

(Japanese original by Ryo Watanabe, Osaka Science & Environment News Department, and Mai Suganuma, Kyoto Bureau)

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