Shigekazu Nagata is a biochemist recognized globally for his work on apoptosis, in particular for elucidating the physiological and pathological role of Fas-mediated apoptosis and its signal transduction. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1977 from the University of Tokyo and from November 1977 to December 1981, he carried out post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Prof Charles Weissmann (Institute of Molecular Biology I, University of Zurich). He then returned to the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo in 1982, where he took up the position of assistant professor. In April 1987, he was appointed head of the Molecular Biology Department of Osaka Bioscience Institute before becoming a professor in the Department of Genetics at the Osaka University Medical School. In 2007, he moved to the Graduate School of Medicine of Kyoto University as a professor in the Department of Medical Chemistry.
Having served as the Japanese representative on the Council of Scientists from 2006-2009, Nagata is no stranger to HFSP and knows the Program well. During his distinguished career he has held a number of editorial functions for international journals and is still a member of the editorial board of Cancer Cell and Immunity. He was President of the Japanese Biochemical Society from 2005-2006, and the Japanese Society of Molecular Biology from 2007-2008. He is also a member of The Japan Academy, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. As a recipient of numerous international prizes, his accolades include the Emil von Behring Prize (Marburg, Germany), the Robert Koch Award from the Koch Foundation (Bonn, Germany), Prix Lacassagne from the French Cancer League (Paris, France) and the Debrecen Award for Molecular Medicine from Debrecen University (Hungary). He has also been awarded some of the most prestigious prizes and distinctions of Japan, such as the Keio Medical Science Prize (Keio University), the Asahi Prize from the Asahi Foundation (Tokyo), the Japan Academy Prize and Imperial Prize from the Japan Academy. Most importantly for Japan, he was recognized as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese Government in 2001.