A Japanese biologist, Yoshinori Ohsumi, has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the mechanisms for autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.

Ohsumi, who was born in 1945 in Fukuoka, became a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2009.

According to a statement from the Karolinska Institute released on Monday, “Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content,” the institute’s Nobel Assembly said in a statement.

Yoshinori Ohsumi

“His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection.”

The medicine prize was the first of the annual Nobel Prize awards to be announced. The awards were endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite.

It is worth 8 million kronor (930,000 dollars) this year.

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