Ohsumi's work is important because it helps explain what goes wrong in a range of diseases, from cancer to Parkinson's, the BBC wrote.

He located the genes that regulate this "self-eating" process.

Read alsoShimon Peres, former Israeli president, dies aged 93 - BBCErrors in these genes can cause disease.

Last year's prize was shared by three scientists who developed treatments for malaria and other tropical diseases.