In memory of Dr. Yasuhiro Furuichi

投稿者 Shinichi Nakagawa (RNAJ President)

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dr. Yasuhiro Furuichi, a honorary member of the RNA Society of Japan (RNAJ), passed away on October 8, 2022 at the age of 81.

Dr. Furuichi remained as a senior scientist in Dr. Shatkin’s laboratory until 1985, and contributed a series of seminal works on the cap structure. During that period, a series of important discoveries were being made in the New York and Boston area, including the discovery of hnRNAs by Dr. Jim Darnell, the discovery of the cap-binding protein eIF4E by Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, Dr. Witold Fillipowics, and Dr. Severo Ochoa, the discovery of RNA splicing by Dr. Phil Sharp and Dr. Rich Roberts, and the discovery of ribozymes by Dr. Thomas Cech, and Dr. Furuichi was a witness of these events at the bench. He wrote a series of essays termed "Reverse Rotation of Revolving Lantern" introducing episodes related to these important findings in RNA biology, which are one of the most-read articles on the RNAJ website. The essay was published on April 9, 2022, in which he wrote about his recent friendship with Dr. Kathalin Kaliko, one of the mRNA vaccine developers. He also mentioned his childhood memories of the war, as if he had anticipated the end of his life. Dr. Furuichi was a real living legend in our RNA community. We used to gather around him and listen to the episodes of classical RNA research during the cocktail time after local meetings, especially during the retreat of JST PRESTO project "RNA and Biofunctions," which was headed by Dr. Akio Nomoto, a close friend of Dr. Furuichi. I have no words to express the sadness that we can no longer meet up with Dr. Furuichi, who always cared about RNA research in Japan and encouraged young researchers.

After returning to Japan in 1985, Dr. Furuichi established a new Molecular Genetics Division at the Roche Research Institute of Japan (now Chugai Pharmaceutical Research Institute) in Kamakura, and devoted himself to the management of drug discovery research. He had numerous friends worldwide and organized several international meetings in Japan, which promoted the internationalization of the Japanese RNA community.

In 2019, Dr. Furuichi was awarded an honorary membership in the RNA Society of Japan for his longstanding contributions to RNA research, and in 2021, he received the Japan Medical Research and Development Award from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. "If you are a researcher, it is important to consider both basic and applied science." This was the message written in the last e-mail I received from him, and so I will continue to devote myself RNA research while keeping his words in mind. Rest in peace.

Oct 14th, 2022
RNAJ President  Shinichi Nakagawa

I thank Dr. Josephine Galipon at Keio University for English editing.

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