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The first annual Kyoto Prize at Oxford event took place on the 9th and 10th May, with lectures from all three 2016 Kyoto Prize laureates at the Blavatnik School of Government.

By John Cairns

Image: Lord Patten, the Chancellor of the University, and Dr Kazuo Inamori, founder of the Inamori Foundation, unveil a plaque at the event

The Kyoto Prize is awarded annually to those who have made an outstanding achievement in Basic Sciences, Arts and Philosophy, and Advanced Technology. As part of a major new partnership between the University and the Inamori Foundation, the Kyoto Prize at Oxford event will now be held every year. Laureates will come to the Blavatnik School of Government to share their expertise and insights with the Oxford academic community and with the wider public, through workshops, lectures and visits hosted by academic departments across the University.

Dr Tasuku Honjo, who won the 2016 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences, spoke about his research into the human immune system, and the breakthroughs leading up to the discovery that new immunotherapies could be used to treat cancer.

Dr Martha Craven Nussbaum, who won the 2016 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, spoke about the stigma against ageing in society. She argues that it stems from a disgust which is closely linked to fear, and that it is a social problem resulting in unhappiness and injustice. She said it was ‘fantastic’ that the Kyoto prize recognises researchers in the arts as well as sciences, and that this ‘gives a sign of the continuing vibrancy and value of the humanities.’

Dr Takeo Kanade, who won the 2016 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, spoke about his research into computer vision, and how it can be used to solve real-world problems.

Dr Kazuo Inamori, whose Inamori Foundation established the Kyoto Prize, was introduced by the Chancellor of the University, Lord Patten of Barnes, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson. He gave a lecture discussing how we can move ‘from a society of greed to a society of altruism’. Dr Inamori was also welcomed into the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors, which formally recognises the generosity of the most significant supporters of the University

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, said: ‘This is a truly exceptional partnership – inspiring, educating and connecting individuals who strive for the greater good of humankind and society is at the heart of what both the Blavatnik School of Government and the Inamori Foundation do every day. It is this sense of shared purpose that inspires our partnership, and we are honoured to offer a home for the Kyoto Prize at Oxford and an annual event to celebrate talent applied to public good.’

Calum Miller, Chief Operating Officer at the Blavatnik School of Government, said: ‘It’s been incredibly exciting to see the interaction between the relatively young potential leaders who are studying here, and the very distinguished scholars who are being honoured by the Kyoto Prize, and to see the exchange of ideas between them.’