, also known as , was a prominent American-based Japanese bacteriologist who discovered the agent of syphilis in 1911.
Hideyo was born in Inawashiro, Fukushima prefecture in 1876.
When he was one and a half years
old he fell down into a fireplace and suffered a burn injury on his
left hand. There was no doctor in the small village, but one of the
men examined the boy. "The fingers of the left hand are mostly
gone," he said, "and the left arm and the left foot and the right
hand are burned; I know not how badly."
In 1883 he entered Mitsuwa elementary school. Thanks to generous
contributions from his teacher Kobayashi and his friends, he was
able to receive surgery on his badly burned left hand. He recovered
about 70% mobility and functionality in his left hand through the
Noguchi decided to become a doctor to help those in need. He
apprenticed himself to , the same doctor who had performed the
surgery on his hand. He passed the examinations to practice
medicine when he was twenty years old in 1897. He showed signs of
great talent and was supported in his studies by Dr. Morinosuke Chiwaki
. In 1898, he changed
his first name to Hideyo after reading a novel about a doctor who
had the same name - Seisaku - as him. The doctor in the novel was
intelligent like Noguchi, but became lazy and ruined his life.
Hideyo Noguchi and his mother Shika
Noguchi moved to the United States, where he obtained a job as a research assistant
with Dr. Simon Flexner at the University of
Pennsylvania and later at the Rockefeller
Institute of Medical Research.
He thrived in this environment. At this
time his work concerned poisonous
. In part, his move was motivated by difficulties in
obtaining a medical position in Japan, as prospective employers
were concerned about the impact the hand deformity would have on
potential patients. In a research setting, this handicap became a
non-issue. He and his peers learned from their work and from each
other. In this period, a fellow research assistant in Flexner's lab
was Frenchman Alexis Carrel
, who would
go on to win a Nobel Prize
in 1912; and
Noguchi's work would later attract the Prize committee's scrutiny.
The Nobel Foundation archives have been only recently opened for
public inspection; and what was once only speculation is now
confirmed. He was nominated in 1913, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1921, 1924,
1925, 1926, and 1927.
working at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical
Research in 1913, he demonstrated the presence of
(syphilitic spirochete) in the brain of a progressive paralysis
patient, proving that the spirochete was the cause of the
Dr. Noguchi's name is remembered in the binomial
attached to another spirochete, Leptospira noguchii
In 1918, Noguchi traveled extensively in Central America
and South America
to do research for a vaccine
, and to research Oroya fever
. While in Ecuador, he received
a commission as a colonel in the Ecuadoran
In 1928, Noguchi traveled to Africa
confirm his findings. The purpose of this field work was to test
the hypothesis that yellow fever was caused by spirochaete bacteria
instead of a virus
. While working in
Coast (modern-day Ghana) he died
from yellow fever on May 21,
His last words being "I don't understand."
- ::Washington, D.C.: Carnegie
Institution. [OCLC 2377892]
- ::Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution. [OCLC 14796920]
- ::Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott. [OCLC
- ::New York: P. B. Hoeber. [OCLC 14783533]
Honors during Noguchi's lifetime
Noguchi was honored with both Japanese and foreign decorations. He
received honorary degrees from a number of universities.
He was self-effacing in his public life, and he often referred to
himself with naive objectiveness, as "funny Noguchi;" but those who
knew him well reported that he "gloated in honors." When Noguchi
was awarded an honorary doctorate at Yale, William Lyon Phelps
observed that the
Kings of Spain, Denmark and Sweden had conferred awards, but
"perhaps he appreciates even more than royal honors the admiration
and the gratitude of the people."
In 1928, the Japanese government awarded Noguchi the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver
, which represents the second highest of eight classes
associated with the award.
1979, the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR)
was founded with funds donated by the Japanese government.
Institute is located at the University of Ghana in Legon, a suburb north of Accra.
After his death, Noguchi's body was returned to the United States,
but the mere existence of the NMIMR is arguably a more fitting
memorial than the modest marker in New York City's Woodlawn
Dr. Noguchi's portrait has been printed on Japanese 1000 yen banknotes
since 2004. In
addition, the house where he was born and brought up is preserved
and is part of a museum to his life and its achievements near
Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize
Japanese Government established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize
July 2006 as a new international medical research and services
award to mark the official visit to by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
to Africa in May 2006
and the 80th anniversary of Dr. Noguchi’s death. The Prize aims to
honor individuals with outstanding achievements in combating
various infectious diseases in Africa or in establishing innovative
medical service systems. The presentation ceremony and laureate
lectures coincided with the Fourth Tokyo
International Conference on African Development
)in late April 2008. This year's conference venue
was moved from Tokyo to Yokohama as another way of honoring the man
after whom the prize was named. In 1899, Dr. Noguchi worked at the
Yokohama Port Quarantine Office as an assistant quarantine
The first awards of this international prize—consisting of a
citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (US$843,668)
are only intended to be the first in a continuing series; and
subsequently the Prize is expected to be awarded every five years.
The prize as been made possible through a combination of government
funding and private donations.
- Flexner, James Thomas. (1996). Maverick's Progress, pp. 51-52.
- Gray, Christopher. " Streetscapes/Rockefeller University, 62nd to 68th
Streets Along the East River; From a Child's Death Came a Medical
Institute's Birth," New York Times. February 25,
- Japanese Government Internet TV: "Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," streaming video
- Dixon, Bernard. "Fame, Failure, and Yellowjack," Microbe
Magazine (American Society for
Microbiology). May 2004.
- BBC/H2g2: Yellow Fever blurb.
- "'Funny Noguchi,' Time. May 18,
- "Angll Inaugurated at Yale Graduation; New
President Takes Office Before a Distinguished Audience of
University Men;784 Degrees are given; Mme. Curie, Sir Robert
Jones,Archibald Marshall, J.W. Davis and Others Honored,"
New York Times. June 23, 1921.
- Kita, Atsushi. (2005). Dr. Noguchi's Journey: A Life of
Medical Search and Discovery, p. 169.
- Kita, p. 181.
- Kita, p. 177;
- Kita, p. 182.
- [see above]
- Kita, Atsushi. (2005). Dr. Noguchi's Journey: A Life of
Medical Search and Discovery, p. 196; n.b., Order of the
Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, 1915.]]
- Kita, p. 186.
- Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Noguchi & Latin America
- "Mikado Honors Dr. Noguchi, New York
Times. June 2, 1928.
- UNiversity of Pennsylvania: Global Health Project
- University of Ghana: Noguchi Institute (NMIMR).
- " A Place for All Eternity In Their Adopted
Land," New York Times. September 1, 1997.
- Bank of Japan: Valid Bank of Japan Notes, as of August 2004; Brook,
James. "Japan Issues New Currency to Foil Forgers,"
New York Times. November 2, 2004
- Japan Science and Technology Agency: " Comemorative Lecture: The First Hideyo Noguchi Africa
Prize," Science Links Japan web site.
- Rockefeller Foundation: Noguchi Prize, history
- Japan, Cabinet Office: Noguchi Prize, chronology
- Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Museum: Noguchi, life events
- World Health Organization: Noguchi Prize, WHO/AFRO involved
- "Noguchi Africa Prize short by 70% of fund target,"
Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo). March 30, 2008.