Dr Hideyo Noguchi

Dr Hideyo Noguchi was a prominent Japanese bacteriologist whose outstanding dedication and research into tropical diseases has been recognised with the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize

Dr Hideyo Noguchi © Wellcome Library, LondonBackground

Hideyo Noguchi was born in Japan in 1876. He qualified as a doctor and travelled to the USA in 1901. He worked as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and later at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.


Dr. Noguchi’s research was varied and wide reaching, and included studies of snake venoms, trachoma and smallpox. Among his major contributions was the discovery and isolation of Treponema pallidum from the brains of people suffering progressive paralysis in 1913, which proved that this organism was the cause of an important neurological form of syphilis.

In 1918, Dr Noguchi travelled throughout Africa and South America, conducting research into diseases including Oroya fever, trachoma, yellow fever and poliomyelitis. In Accra, Ghana in 1928, Dr Noguchi contracted yellow fever while investigating his (now disproved) theory that the disease was caused by a bacterium, and he died at the age of 51..

He received numerous academic honours throughout his career. Since 2004, his work has been commemorated by including his portrait on Japanese 1,000 yen notes. In addition, the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize was first awarded by the Government of Japan in 2008. It will be made every five years to individuals or institutions who have made outstanding contributions to, and who are still active in, the fields of medical research or medical services in Africa.