Osamu Hayaishi

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Osamu Hayaishi
Native name
早石 修
Born(1920-01-08)January 8, 1920
DiedDecember 17, 2015(2015-12-17) (aged 95)
Alma materOsaka University
Known forOxygenases
AwardsJapan Academy Prize (1967)
Order of Culture (1972)
Wolf Prize (1986)
Scientific career
InstitutionsOsaka Bioscience Institute
Osaka Medical College
Kyoto University
Vanderbilt University
University of Tokyo
Osaka University
Washington University in St. Louis
National Institutes of Health
Doctoral studentsYasutomi Nishizuka
Tasuku Honjo
Shigetada Nakanishi

Osamu Hayaishi MJA (早石 修, Hayaishi Osamu, January 8, 1920 – December 17, 2015), was a prominent Japanese biochemist.[1] He discovered Oxygenases at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, National Institutes of Health in 1955.[2]

Citing his "outstanding and pioneering contributions to biomedical sciences and enzymology," the Wolf Foundation awarded Hayaishi the 1986 Wolf Prize in Medicine "for his discovery of the oxygenase enzymes and elucidation of their structure and biological importance".[3][4]

Hayaishi was President of International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1973 to 1976.[5]


Hayaishi was born in Stockton, California, United States, in 1920. He completed his medical degree in 1942 from Osaka University. After serving as a medical officer in the Japanese Navy for 3 years, he joined the Institute of Microbial Diseases, Osaka University and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1949.

After working with Arthur Kornberg at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, National Institutes of Health and Washington University in St. Louis, Hayaishi served as a research group leader or a professor at various research institutions in the US and Japan including Kyoto University, and led approximately 600 graduate students in his life including Yasutomi Nishizuka, Tasuku Honjo, and Shigetada Nakanishi. More than 100 his pupils became professors at various universities in Japan.[6]


Hayaishi, along with group members, is recognized for his great contributions to biomedical sciences and enzymology, especially the discovery of Oxygenases group of enzymes. These enzymes are widely distributed in nature and represent a unique group of respiratory enzymes that catalyze the direct incorporation of molecular oxygen into various substrates.

Hayaishi is also known for his discovery of the sleep-inducing action of Prostaglandin D2.[7]


Hayaishi was awarded several honors including, the Asahi Prize (1964), the Japan Academy Prize (1967), the Order of Culture (1972), the Louis and Bert Freedman Foundation Award from the New York Academy of Sciences (1976), the Wolf Prize in Medicine (1986), and the Distinguished Scientist Award of the World Federation of Sleep Research Societies (1999).

Hayaishi was also elected as a foreign member of several academies, as well as a member of the Japan Academy (MJA) in 1974.

In 1984, the honorary citizenship of Kyoto was awarded to Hayaishi.


  1. ^ 京大名誉教授の早石修さん死去 「酸素添加酵素」を発見 (in Japanese). Asahi. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  2. ^ Hayaishi, O; Katagiri, M; Rothberg, S (1955). "MECHANISM OF THE PYROCATECHASE REACTION". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 77: 5450–1. doi:10.1021/ja01625a095.
  3. ^ "The 1986 Wolf Foundation Prize in Medicine". Wolf Foundation. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
  4. ^ The Wolf Prize in Medicine Archived February 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Hayaishi, O (2006). "Memoirs of a biochemist". IUBMB Life (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Life). 58 (5–6): 242–5. doi:10.1080/15216540600702271. ISSN 1521-6543.
  6. ^ "運・鈍・根 酸素添加酵素と睡眠" Biography of Osamu Hayaishi(in Japanese)
  7. ^ Urade, Y (2006). "Twenty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of somnogenic activity of prostaglandin D2: sleep research directed by Osamu Hayaishi". IUBMB Life (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Life). 58 (5–6): 254–6. doi:10.1080/15216540600756038. PMID 16754308.

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