Outstanding achievements in science and culture honored

11 November 2013

Kyoto/Neuss – Electronics engineer Dr. Robert Heath Dennard, evolutionary biologist Dr. Masatoshi Nei, and jazz musician Cecil Taylor received the Kyoto Prize on Sunday November 10. Along with the Nobel Prize, the award is one of the world’s highest honors in the fields of culture and science. Every year, the Inamori Foundation — established by Kyocera founder Dr. Kazuo Inamori — recognizes laureates in three categories for their lifetime achievements. The prize is worth 50 million yen (currently around €372,000*) per category.

Kyoto Prize 2012 laureates: Dr. Ivan Edward Sutherland, Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi and Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Kyoto Prize 2013 laureates: Dr. Robert Heath Dennard, Dr. Masatoshi Nei and Cecil Taylor

At a festive ceremony held at the Kyoto International Conference Center in the former imperial capital of Japan, each laureate in the categories of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy received a diploma, the Kyoto Prize medal and prize money. The presentation ceremony took place in the presence of Princess Takamado, a member of the Japanese imperial family and over a thousand guests from business, political and cultural circles from around the world.

2013 laureates

Dr. Robert Heath Dennard (b. September 5, 1932, USA)

Dr. Robert Heath Dennard, an American electronics engineer, invented Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), or dynamic RAM in 1967. His innovation increased the capacity of digital information storage immensely, leading to dramatic progress in information and telecommunications technology. In 1974, Dr. Dennard and his colleagues also played a key role in the development of integrated circuits (microchips) thanks to their scaling theory for the miniaturization of field-effect transistors (MOSFET). Today’s extensive use of digital resources in everyday life, as well as in science, would have not been possible without the achievements of Dr. Dennard.

Dr. Masatoshi Nei (b. January 2, 1931, Japan)

The American geneticist and evolutionary biologist Dr. Masatoshi Nei played a key role in creating a better understanding of genetics and evolutionary biology through his research. In the early 1970s, Nei developed a new statistical method that made it possible to measure the genetic distance between two populations (Nei’s distance). Thanks to this method, researchers are able to estimate the point in time at which human populations split from a common ancestor. Dr. Nei’s research on genetic distance has yielded major contributions to molecular evolutionary biology and many other disciplines, including ecology and environmental conservation.

Cecil Taylor (b. March 29, 1929, USA)

Cecil Taylor, one of the world’s most influential jazz musicians, is among this year’s laureates. The free jazz piano player, who cites Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk as his influences, has opened up new horizons in the world of jazz with his original and innovative improvisation style. His unsurpassed virtuosity and individuality inject an intense, vital force into his unique music, which has exerted a profound influence on a broad range of musical genres. Mr. Taylor has toured Japan several times and has had a considerable impact on the country’s jazz community. In the late 1980s, he played frequent sessions with leading European free improvisers, marking a new chapter in the history of Europe’s improvised music scene.

The Kyoto Prize: An award with a rich tradition

With its Kyoto Prize, the Inamori Foundation honors the lifetime achievements of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sciences and arts. The prize was initiated in 1984 by Kazuo Inamori, founder of Japanese technology company Kyocera, which is headquartered in Kyoto. The Kyoto Prize is awarded annually in November by the Inamori Foundation, also established by Kazuo Inamori, in the categories Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.

Laureates over the past 28 years include late choreographer Pina Bausch, philosopher Jürgen Habermas, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, French composer Pierre Boulez and behavioral scientist Jane Goodall.

For more information on the Kyoto Prize and the Inamori Foundation, please visit

*Exchange rate as of Oct. 24, 2013

Photos: © Inamori Foundation 2013

Copies: Free of charge; please provide specimen copies to Kyocera Fineceramics GmbH Further photo material available upon request

Editorial Material