The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2015 Crafoord Prize in Biosciences to Professor emeritus Tomoko Ohta and Professor emeritus Richard Lewontin for their pioneering work in understanding genetic variation and evolution. The award ceremony will take place on May 5-7 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Crafoord Prize in astronomy and mathematics, biosciences, geosciences or polyarthritis research is awarded annually according to a rotating scheme. These disciplines are chosen to complement those for which the Nobel Prizes are awarded.
This year’s prize recognizes Professor Ohta’s fundamental contributions to the understanding of genetic polymorphism conducted at NIG. Her work, including “Slightly Deleterious Mutant Substitutions in Evolution” published by Nature in 1973 proposed “near neutrality” as a important factor for understanding both variation within a population and differences among species. Weak selection is now considered central to understanding genome evolution and her ideas have permeated thinking in biomedical research and systems biology as well as in comparative genomics.