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Hideyo Noguchi


Dr. Hideyo Noguchi
Japanese people have long worked in Africa in a variety of fields including agriculture, education and medicine. One of the pioneers in such endeavors was bacteriologist Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928).

Born in a small village in Fukushima Prefecture, Hideyo Noguchi suffered a serious burn injury as an infant, but overcame the deformity to his left hand to obtain a physician's license at the young age of twenty. In 1900, Noguchi traveled to the United States and worked as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, where his work studying infectious diseases would be recognized with three Nobel Prize nominations.

Award ceremony for the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize at TICAD IV in May, 2008
One of the subjects Dr. Noguchi investigated was the cause of yellow fever, which is endemic in South America and Africa. Prompted by the death of a fellow researcher who succumbed to yellow fever in Africa, and brushing aside objections from those around him, Dr. Noguchi traveled to Accra in the British colony of the Gold Coast (currently Ghana) in October 1927. Dr. Noguchi extended the length of his stay from three months to six months in order to continue his research when he felt a breakthrough seemed close. However, just as he was planning to return to Japan, he contracted yellow fever and died in May 1928.

As a way to honor the doctor's achievements and continue his intentions, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research was established with Japanese support at the University of Ghana in 1979. The Institute is one of the leading laboratories researching infectious diseases in Africa today.

In 2006, the Japanese government established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize to honor individuals with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa. Following the first award at TICAD IV in 2008, the ceremony for the second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize will be held at TICAD V in June this year.

Credit: AP/AFLO

Q1: A portrait of Dr. Noguchi can be found on items in circulation in everyday Japanese life. What?

A. Postage stamps

B. Paper currency

C. Coins

Credit: AFLO
Q2: By what nickname was Dr. Noguchi known among his colleagues at research laboratories in the United States? (Photo: Statue of Dr. Noguchi in Ghana)

A. The human locomotive

B. The human printing press

C. The human dynamo