Haifan Lin is a stem cell biologist known for his work on the demonstration of stem cell asymmetric division, the proof of the stem cell niche theory, and the discoveries of the Argonuate/Piwi gene family and piRNAs. Lin was born and raised on Dongtou Island off the coast of Wenzhou, China. He received a B.S. degree from Fudan University (1982), and a Ph.D. degree from Cornell University (1990). Following his postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution for Science, he joined the faculty of Duke University Medical School in 1994, where he rose to the rank of full Professor. He founded the Duke Stem Cell Research Program (2005-2006), and moved to Yale in 2006 to establish and direct the Yale Stem Cell Center. With Yale’s support, he became the Founding Dean (Adjunct) of School of Life Science and Technology at ShanghaiTech University, China, in 2014. Lin has provided numerous services to the scientific community and beyond, including various leadership roles in the International Society for Stem Cell Research. Lin received many awards, including the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering (1996), the NIH Director?s Pioneer Award (2010), and the Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award (2015). He is a Member of National Academy of Sciences, a Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

Haifan Lin works on genetic mechanisms that regulate stem cell self-renewal and germline development. In addition, he applies findings from these studies to cancer research. His earlier work established germline stem cells in the Drosophila ovary as an effective stem cell model. Using this model, Lin validated the century-old stem cell asymmetric division hypothesis, and discovered a novel organelle, the spectrosome, that plays an important role in asymmetric division. He also identified niche cells for these stem cells, which represented the first identified stem cell niche. Subsequently, he discovered novel genes, including the argonaute/piwi gene family, that regulate stem cell self-renewal and germline development in Drosophila, C. elegans, Hydra, and mammalian systems. He also demonstrated the function of the Pumilio gene family and the hedgehog signaling pathway in stem cell self-renewal and proposed the niche induction hypothesis. His lab showed that the overexpression of human Piwi proteins is a cause of cancer. He is also a discoverer of a complex class of small noncoding RNAs that interact with Piwi proteins (thus named Piwi-interacting RNAs, a.k.a. piRNAs). His lab demonstrated the essential function of the Piwi-piRNA mechanism in mediating epigenetic programming and posttranscriptional regulation of mRNAs and lncRNAs and the function of transposons and pseudogenes in regulating mRNAs and lncRNAs. His lab also works on the role of Pumilio proteins in regulating the translation and turnover of mRNAs in mammalian stem cells.

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Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology