Professor Nobuhiro Takahashi of the Graduate School of Dentistry has been awarded the 2019 Yngve Ericsson Prize in the field of preventive odontology, the first researcher in Asia to receive the honor. He was named along with fellow recipient Professor Fridus van der Weijden of the University of Amsterdam.
The award ceremony was held on July 4 in the Colombian city of Cartagena, at the opening of the 66th Scientific Meeting and General Assembly of the European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA).
I am really happy and honored to get this award but I am only a representative of my research team. I'm proud of our work and grateful to my colleagues and students who are a constant source of inspiration and encouragement."
Nobuhiro Takahashi, Professor, Graduate School of Dentistry, Tohoku University
The Yngve Ericsson Prize is named after the founder of the Patent Revenue Fund, and is awarded once every three years to acknowledge outstanding scientific contributions to the prevention of oral diseases. Candidates are nominated by the international research community and the winners selected by a five-member committee appointed by ORCA and the Patent Revenue Fund.
Takahashi's research is on the ecology and biochemistry of oral biofilms. "The oral microbiome is composed of a huge number of bacteria, and their metabolic activity can cause diseases such as dental caries, periodontitis and bad breath," he said.
While researchers have tried for years to learn about the microorganisms that cause these oral diseases, Takahashi was able to identify the metabolic pathways, networks and activities of representative oral microorganisms and actual oral biofilms. "I integrated these results and pioneered an ecologically- and biochemically-based etiological process of microorganism-induced oral diseases. Then I applied it to clinical research."
Takahashi hopes that his research will change the way people think about oral care and hygiene, and improve preventive strategies against diseases. This is especially important in aging societies like Japan, he said, because oral disease is increasingly linked to many other general health problems and elderly people are particularly vulnerable.