Brief Biography of Dr. Susumu Ohno
  • February 1, 1928

    Born in Seoul, Korea  

  • 1949

    Received DVM from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology; employed at the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo

  • August 1952

    Moved to Los Angeles as Predoctoral Fellow at UCLA, then to City of Hope

  • 1954

    Married to Midori

  • 1961

    Received Ph.D. from Hokkaido University

  • 1966-81

    Chair, Division of Biology, City of Hope Research Institute

  • 1981

    Ohno’s productive years continued until his retirement in 1998 as Ben Horowitz Chair at City of Hope

  • January 13, 2000

    Died at 72


Major contribution: 361 publications in addition to three seminal monographs: 1. Sex Chromosomes and Sex-Linked Genes, published in 1967; 2. Evolution by Gene Duplication, published in 1970; 3. Major Sex-Determining Genes, published in 1979.

Ohno’s major contributions to science include discovery of X chromosome inactivation (thus opening the modern era of epigenetics research); theory of evolution by gene duplication; theories of evolution of DNA sequences from primordial building blocks; theories of origins of the adaptive immune system and, last but not least, exploration of the parallels between music and genetic sequences.

He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 1981. Dr. Susumu OhnoCourtesy of City of Hope ArchivesHe received the Japanese Human Genetics Society Prize in 1981; the Francis Amory Prize for Reproductive Biology of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1981; the Kihara Prize of the Japanese Society of Genetics in 1983. He was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in 1992, and received the Inaugural Queen Margarethe Prize from the Royal Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998.

Honorary degrees were conferred upon him by the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and by the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in 1997. In the last year of his life he made a final journey to Japan with Midori. On that occasion Ohno was accorded the rare privilege of a personal meeting with the emperor of Japan, and upon his passing the emperor and empress sent their personal condolences to Mrs. Ohno.