Hokkaido University’s Takanori Teshima receives the Health Culture Award

University News | February 14, 2023

Professor Takanori Teshima of the Faculty of Medicine, Hokkaido University, received the 74th Health Culture Award on December 13th, 2022. The Health Culture Award (保健文化賞, hoken-bunka-shō), is known as Japan’s oldest and most prestigious award in the field of field of health and hygiene.

Professor Takanori Teshima addressing the audience at the 74th Health Culture Award Ceremony.

Professor Takanori Teshima at the 74th Health Culture Award Ceremony.

Professor Teshima received the award for his work in the rapid development of a diagnostic test to detect SARS-CoV-2. The Award also recognises his collaboration with government and private institutions for the deployment and widespread adoption of the test.

“It is a great honor and a great pleasure for me to have been selected to present the 74th Health Culture Award, which has a long and prestigious history, and to deliver the address on behalf of the award winners. It is also a great honor to have received the unreserved congratulations of the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Mr. Katsunobu Kato, and other related people, and to have been granted an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace,” said Takanori Teshima, speaking after receiving the award. 

“In August 2020, the first patient with COVID-19 who visited Hokkaido University Hospital submitted a saliva sample, in addition to the standard nasopharyngeal swabs. A PCR test of the saliva sample tested positive for the virus. This serendipitous result inspired me: if it were possible to submit samples painlessly and with no risk of infection, it would be far easier to collect samples and monitor the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We were able to conclusively prove that the virus is present in saliva, and I established a saliva test for SARS-CoV-2 in saliva. The test was quickly approved by the government and became a game-changer that greatly advanced Japan’s anti-COVID-19 measures.”

“Looking back, I am proud to have made a significant contribution to overcoming the crisis of novel coronavirus infection, starting with a small realization from a single patient and moving the world. I will continue to do my best to live up to the expectations of everyone who presented me with this prestigious award.”

Recipients of the 74th Health Culture Award. Professor Teshima is in the seated row, fourth from the right.

Recipients of the 74th Health Culture Award. Professor Teshima is in the seated row, fourth from the right.

The Health Culture Award was established in 1950 as a tribute to organizations and individuals working to improve health and hygiene in Japan during the postwar period. The award is sponsored by Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited, and recognises contribution to health and hygiene including health promotion and disease prevention, health and welfare for the elderly and disabled, and measures to combat declining birth rates. This year, ten organizations and five individuals were conferred with the award.