MASAO ITOBorn in Nagoya, Japan in 1928, Masao Ito received his MD (1953) and Ph.D. (1959) from The University of Tokyo. He was an Assistant Professor at Kumamoto University (1954-57) and The University of Tokyo (1957-62). Masao Ito was a research scholar and research fellow at Sir John Eccles' laboratory, Australian National University (1959-62), an Associate Professor (1963-70), Professor (1970-90), Dean (1986-89), and Emeritus Professor (1990-)at The University of Tokyo. He is the team leader (1989-) and Director General (1993-) of the Frontier Research Program, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN).
Dr. Ito's field is neuroscience. He discovered the inhibitory action of cerebellar Purkinje cells, and the characteristic synaptic plasticity, long-term depression (LTD), in these cells. Based upon these findings, he developed a theory that the cerebellum is a general learning machine for acquiring not only motor skills, but also implicit memory in thought. His achievements are summarized in The Cerebellum as a Neuronal Machine, Springer-Verlag (1967) with J.C. Eccles and J. Szenthgothai, and The Cerebellum and Neural Control, Raven Press (1984).
Masao Ito received the Fujiwara Prize (1981), the Academy Prize and Imperial Prize (1986), the Robert Dow Neuroscience Award (1993), the IPSEN Foundation Award (1993), the Person of Cultural Merit (1994), the Japan Prize (1996), Order of Culture (1996), and an Honorary Degree of Science from The University of Southern California (1995) and from Torino University (1996). He serves for IBRO (President, 1980-86; Honorary President,1987-), IUPS (President 1994-), FAOPS (President 1990-), ICSU (General Committee and Executive Board, 1984-); and for the Science Council of Japan (member, 1988-, President 1994-), Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology (1994-), and Japan Neuroscience Society (President 1983-).
He is a member of the Japan Academy, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Royal Society, Armenian Academy of Science and Russian Academy of Science.