Building bridges between Japan and Germany


Immunologist Prof. Dr. Takeshi Tsubata and architect Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Bock have been selected to receive the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). They are to be honoured for their many years of successful and dedicated commitment to academic and cultural exchange between Germany and Japan. "Takeshi Tsubata and Thomas Bock aren't just renowned as outstanding researchers in their respective countries and subject areas. They are also highly regarded in the other country and have made a significant contribution to German-Japanese understanding – be it at specialist level, in the training of early career researchers, in committee work or in policy advice," says DFG Vice President Prof. Dr. Katja Becker, who chaired the jury. The prize, worth €10,000, will be presented on 10 October 2017 in Bonn.

Takeshi Tsubata is being recognised for his decades-long support in promoting exchange and cooperation between Japan and Germany. As a member of the selection committee for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Tokyo-based immunologist has been involved for many years in the awarding of fellowships to Japanese students. He maintains close links with the offices of the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) in Japan. Tsubata is also a member of numerous scientific associations and editorial advisory boards in Japan, as well as an associate member of the Science Council of Japan – a role in which he acts as an important advocate for German research.

Tsubata has made a vital contribution to a better understanding of the immune system by discovering new aspects of the basic principles of the humoral immune response. He studied medicine at Kyoto University and received his doctorate in 1988. He then spent two years as an AvH research fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg. After returning to Japan, where he accepted a post as professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University in 1996, scientific exchange with Germany remained very important to him. He set up a student exchange programme at his university and made regular research visits to Germany, establishing collaborations with German immunologists at various institutions. For his services to German-Japanese relations, he was presented with the Philipp Franz von Siebold Award, established by the Federal President of Germany in 2005.

Thomas Bock has also been dedicated to exchange and cooperation between Germany and Japan for many years. For example, Bock was significantly involved in the creation of exchange programmes between various Japanese universities and the Technical University of Munich, where he has been researching since 1997. He also contributed to EU-wide exchanges with Japan in the fields of informatics, electrical and electronic engineering, machine construction/robotics and architecture in his role as programme director for the European Union's Architecture and Urbanism Student Mobility International Program (AUSMIP), which he initiated in 2002.

Bock's research is in the area of construction robotics, of which he is considered to be one of the co-founders. His interests lie primarily in the sociotechnically integrated use of new technologies in everyday life. Bock developed the term "robot-oriented design", which refers to a complete technological and planning concept. His first contact with Japan came early in his academic career: in 1984 he began working at the University of Tokyo, funded by a fellowship from the Japanese education and science ministry, where he completed his doctorate in 1989. He was then appointed professor of construction automation in the Faculty of Construction Engineering at the University of Karlsruhe (TH), before moving to the Technical University of Munich. In 2007 Bock became a fellow at the University of Tokyo. He is also a member of the Robotics Society of Japan. In 2011 he received an award from the Japanese foreign minister for his services to German-Japanese relations.

The Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize, presented by the DFG, has been awarded roughly every two years since 1997 to Japanese and German researchers. The prizes honour special achievements in all areas of science and the humanities on a rotating basis, this year in the natural sciences and engineering sciences.

The prize money comes from a fund set up by Eugen and Ilse Seibold. Marine geologist Eugen Seibold was President of the DFG between 1980 and 1985. In 1994, he and American environmentalist Lester Brown were awarded the Blue Planet Prize, the world's largest monetary environmental award, by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan. Eugen Seibold and his wife, Dr. Ilse Seibold, established the prize fund with €150,000 of the €400,000 prize money. The proceeds from this fund are used to promote research and understanding between Germany and Japan.


Further Information

Media contact:

DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109, [email protected]

DFG programme contact:

Anne Schmitz, International Affairs, Tel. +49 228 885-2226, [email protected]

For more information about this year's prizewinners and a look back at previous winners, please visit:

Media Contact

Magdalena Schaeffer
[email protected]

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