The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Celebrated in Japan as a pioneering life scientist, Nakamura is known for her ingenuity and groundbreaking ideas. For nearly three decades, she has been studying the relationship between the biological sciences and society — a field she coined as biohistory. “Biohistory is a comprehensive approach to the questions of life, such as what we are and why such diversity exists among living creatures,” she says. She has demonstrated analytical thinking since she was a child.
She became fascinated with the structure of DNA while at Tokyo University where she received a degree in chemistry in 1959 and a Ph.D in biochemistry five years later. After working as a researcher for the National Institute of Health, she held management posts at Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, followed by various professorships.
In 1993, she founded and became deputy director general of the JT Biohistory Research Hall located near Kyoto, where she was appointed director general in 2002. She has spearheaded many activities that help interpret “the grand story of life that began 3.8 billion years ago”.
Nakamura has written several books, including From the Window of Biohistory. She is also well-known for translating into Japanese The Double Helix, the book on DNA by James D. Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning co-discoverer of DNA’s structure.
Published in 2012