Kayo Inaba, known for her work on dendritic cells, is being honored as the Asia-Pacific recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science award, which supports eminent women in science throughout the world who are working in the life and physical sciences. Inaba is an adjunct faculty member in Michel Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller, and previously worked in Ralph Steinman’s Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology. She is also a professor in the Graduate School of Biostudies at Kyoto University in Japan, as well as the vice president for gender equality and the director of the Center for Women Researchers at Kyoto.
The awards, presented by the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation, based in France, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, were founded in 1998 to recognize women scientists who have not only made important contributions to science but have also been a source of support, motivation and inspiration for other women researchers. The awards are given to five individuals each year and carry a grant of $100,000. This year’s recipients include the dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Laurie Glimcher, a pioneer and leader in the field of immunology.
Inaba, who was the first female associate professor on Kyoto University’s Faculty of Science, proved that dendritic cells, specialized immune cells discovered at Rockefeller by Steinman, initiate immune responses. She developed a method for growing dendritic cells from bone marrow progenitors in culture, which made dendritic cell biology accessible to other investigators. Inaba provided the first evidence that dendritic cells could be used for cellular therapies by showing that antigen-loaded dendritic cells induce effective anti-cancer immune responses.
Inaba received her Ph.D. from the Kyoto University in 1978 and was a visiting faculty member in Ralph Steinman’s laboratory from 1982 until 2011. She became associate professor at Kyoto in 1992 and was promoted to full professor in 1999. Inaba has been director of the Center for Women Researchers at Kyoto since 2007.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science award was also given to Rockefeller’s Elaine Fuchs, in 2010.