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Kimishige "Kimi" Ishizaka (石坂 公成, Ishizaka Kimishige, 3 December 1925 – 6 July 2018) was a Japanese immunologist who, with his wife Terako Ishizaka, discovered the antibody class Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in 1966–1967.[1][2] Their work was regarded as a major breakthrough in the understanding of allergy. He was awarded the 1973 Gairdner Foundation International Award and the 2000 Japan Prize for his work in immunology.[3][4]

Kimishige Ishizaka
Born(1925-12-03)3 December 1925
Died6 July 2018(2018-07-06) (aged 92)
Other namesKimi Ishizaka
EducationUniversity of Tokyo
Known forDiscovery of IgE
Spouse(s)Teruko Ishizaka
Scientific career
Notable studentsTadamitsu Kishimoto

Early life and educationEdit

Ishizaka was born in Tokyo to Koki and Kiku Ishizaka. His father was a career soldier who retired in 1933 as a lieutenant general. Ishizaka obtained his medical qualifications and PhD in 1948 from the University of Tokyo. He "was captivated by immunology while taking a summer course in college" and abandoned plans to become a physician. [5]


From 1953 to 1962 he headed the immunoserology division at the department of serology at the Japanese National Institute of Health. During his tenure in that position he spent two years as a research fellow at Caltech (1957–1959).[6][7]

In 1962, Ishizaka and his wife Teruko were recruited by Dr. Sam Bukantz, medical director of the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital (CARIH), and moved to Denver, Colorado.[8] He assumed the post of assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Colorado Medical School, as well as chief of immunology of its associated Children's Asthma Research Institute[6] and CARIH.[9] In 1965, he was promoted to associate professor at University of Colorado Denver.[6]

While at Denver, the Ishizakas discovered the antibody class Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in 1966–1967[10][11] and its interplay with mast cells.[3] They demonstrated the IgE's critical role in mediating the release of histamine from mast cells.[2] The discovery of IgE is considered a milestone in immunology and the understanding of allergy.[2][3]

In 1970, Ishizaka was appointed as O'Neill Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as professor of biology at the Faculty of Arts and Science.[6] From 1982 to 1986, he served as president of the Collegium International Allergologicum.[7] He was elected a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1983.[12] Ishaka remained at the university until 1989,[6] when he became scientific director, and then president in 1990, of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in La Jolla, California.[13]

After retiring in 1996,[14] he returned to Japan and served as honorary director of the Institute of Immunology at Yamagata University.[15]


The Ishizakas received numerous awards for their work in allergy and immunology. In 1972, they received the Passano Foundation Award.[16] In 1973, he received the German Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the Takeda Medical Award, the first Scientific Achievement Award of the International Association of Allergology[6] and together received the Gairdner Foundation International Award.[16] In 1974, he received the Asahi Cultural Award, the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy, and the Japanese Order of Culture.[6][15] In 1979, they received the Borden Award.[16] In 2000, he was awarded the 16th Japan Prize.[3][15]

Personal life and deathEdit

Ishizaka was married to Teruko Ishizaka, his partner in many of their discoveries.[16] He died of heart failure at the age of 92 on 6 July 2018 at Yamagata University Hospital in Yamagata, Yamagata.[15]


  1. ^ Ishizaka K, Ishizaka T, Hornbrook MM (1966). "Physico-chemical properties of human reaginic antibody. IV. Presence of a unique immunoglobulin as a carrier of reaginic activity". J. Immunol. 97 (1): 75–85. PMID 4162440.
  2. ^ a b c Domenico Ribatti (13 June 2017). Milestones in Immunology: Based on Collected Papers. Elsevier Science. pp. 118–9. ISBN 978-0-12-811329-5.
  3. ^ a b c d "Laureates of the Japan Prize: Dr Kimishige Ishizaka –Award Citation". The Japan Prize Foundation. 2000. Retrieved 12 November 2007.
  4. ^ "Japan Prize laureates announced". BBC News. 17 December 1999. Retrieved 12 November 2007.
  5. ^ Roberts, Sam (26 July 2018). "Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka, Who Found Allergy Link, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Laureates of the Japan Prize: Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka". The Japan Prize Foundation. 2000. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b Bergmann, K. C.; Ring, J., eds. (2014). "Kimishige Ishizaka". Chemical Immunology and Allergy. 100 (History of Allergy): 356–360 – via S. Karger AG.
  8. ^ Cohen, Sheldon (March 2005). "The Ishizakas and the search for reaginic antibodies". The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
  9. ^ Anderson, Andrea (1 June 2017). "Self-Experimentation Led to the Discovery of IgE". The Scientist Magazine. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  10. ^ Cruse, Julius M.; Lewis, Robert E. (14 March 2013). Atlas of Immunology. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 20. ISBN 978-3-662-11196-3.
  11. ^ Richer, Alice C. (30 April 2009). Food Allergies. ABC-CLIO. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-313-35274-4.
  12. ^ "Kimishige Ishizaka". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  13. ^ Kimishige Ishizaka. "About the founding director". La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.
  14. ^ Liu, Yun-Cai; Elly, Chris; Yoshida, Hideaki; Bonnefoy-Berard, Nathalie; Altman, Amnon (14 June 1996). "Activation-modulated Association of 14–3–3 Proteins with Cbl in T Cells" (PDF). Journal of Biological Chemistry. 271 (24): 14591–14595. doi:10.1074/jbc.271.24.14591. ISSN 0021-9258. PMID 8663231.
  15. ^ a b c d "石坂公成さんが死去 アレルギー発症の仕組み解明:朝日新聞デジタル". Asahi News (in Japanese). 6 July 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d Sri Kantha, Sachi; Yamamoto, Saori (1 August 2015). "Trend-setting women scientists of biomedical research in Japan". International Medical Journal. 22: 224–226.

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