Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 2011
Affiliation at the time of the award:
The J. David Gladstone Institutes, USA
Kyoto University, Japan
“for the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) from skin cells”.
Professor Shinya Yamanaka (born 1962, Japan) In a series of amazing experiments, conducted in 2006, while working at Kyoto University in Japan, Prof. Yamanaka showed that when introduced into mouse skin cells, there are four genes that can reprogram these cells into ES-like induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, capable of generating cells of ectodermal, endodermal and mesodermal lineages. It was soon shown that these four factors can also convert human fibroblasts to iPS cells. Shortly thereafter, many laboratories reproduced this finding, including the generation of iPS cells from patients. This discovery has also solved a critical political and ethical problem, as it reduces the need to use human oocytes for stem-cell research. Although the therapeutic potential of Dr. Yamanaka’s discovery has not yet been realized, his work has spurred many scientists worldwide to work in the area of regenerative medicine.
Collectively, the groundbreaking contributions by Dr. Yamanka and Dr. Jaenisch form the basis for work on regenerative medicine currently performed in hundreds of laboratories around the world.