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Shinya Yamanaka

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Shinya Yamanaka
Shinya Yamanaka in 2013
Born (1962-09-04) 4 September 1962 (age 61)
Higashiōsaka Osaka, Japan
Alma materKobe University
Osaka City University
Known forInduced pluripotent stem cell
AwardsRobert Koch Prize (2008)
Shaw Prize (2008)
Albert Lasker Award (2009)
Wolf Prize (2011)
Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences [1] (2012)
Millennium Technology Prize (2012)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2012)
Scientific career
Fieldsstem cell research [2][3][4]
InstitutionsKyoto University, Gladstone Institute, University of California (UCSF)

Shinya Yamanaka [5] (born 4 September 1962 in Osaka) is a Japanese physician. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2012 with John Gurdon.[6] He won the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2011 with Rudolf Jaenisch;[7] and the Millennium Technology Prize in 2012 together with Linus Torvalds.

He researches into adult stem cells.[2][3][4] He is director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application and a professor at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences at Kyoto University. He is also a senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, California; and a professor of anatomy at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Yamanaka is also the current president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

What he did

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In development, embryonic stem cells can turn into any tissue. Fibroblasts in the skin are one type of cell. In 2006, Yamanaka and his team took adult mouse fibroblasts and turned them back into stem cells in tissue culture. The changed cells are known as 'induced pluripotent stem cells' (iPS cells).[2] iPS cells are like embryonic stem cells from a blastocyst (the embryo a few days after fertilization).

The procedure used transfection of some stem cell-associated genes into the adult fibroblasts. The transfected genes include the master transcriptional regulators. Transfection is typically done with viral vectors, such as retroviruses.

The team could show that the iPS cells were pluripotent (capable of generating all cell lineages of the body). Soon they grew mice which included iPS cells.[4] In 2007, he and his team generated iPS cells from human adult fibroblasts,[3] again the first group to do so. The main medical application will be replacement of faulty or damaged tissues in humans. This is not available at present. An independent assessment of this field is available.[8]


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  1. Nair P. 2012. Profile of Shinya Yamanaka. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (24): 9223–5. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Takahashi K. & Yamanaka S. 2006. Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. Cell 126 (4): 663. [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Takahashi K.; Yamanaka S. et al 2007. Induction of pluripotent stem cells from adult human fibroblasts by defined factors. Cell 131 (5): 861–872. [3]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Okita K; Ichisaka T. & Yamanaka S. 2007. Generation of germline-competent induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature 448 (7151): 313–317. [4]
  5. Shinya Yamanaka (山中 伸弥, Yamanaka Shin'ya)
  6. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – 2012
  7. Shinya Yamanaka: winner of Wolf Prize in Medicine – 2011. Wolf Foundation. [5] Archived 2015-09-19 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Müller L.U.W. George Q Daley G.Q. and David A Williams D.A. 2009. Upping the ante: recent advances in direct reprogramming. [6]