Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, is a Senior Investigator and the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at the Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Disease. He is also a Professor of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, as well as a Director and Professor of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University. Yamanaka earned an MD from Kobe University and a PhD from Osaka City University. He became an Assistant Professor at Osaka City University Medical School, and later an Associate Professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, where he eventually became a full Professor in 2003. He attained professor position at Kyoto University in 2004, and was appointed Senior Investigator at Gladstone Institutes in 2007. Since 2008, he has been directing CiRA. In 2012, Dr Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery that adult somatic cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells. In addition, he has received many awards and honors, including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the Millennium Technology Award, the Shaw Prize, the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, the Gairdner International Award, the Robert Koch Award.

Research Interests

As a surgeon-turned biologist, I have studied induction of pluripotency in somatic cells since 2000, with a goal to overcome intractable diseases with science. My laboratory successfully generated embryonic-like stem cells by retroviral induction of four genes - Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4 - into mouse and human somatic cells, which I named induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). We found that iPS cells are similar to embryonic stem (ES) cells in morphology, proliferation, gene expression, and pluripotency. Compared to ES cells, iPS cells have less ethical controversy and can be generated from anyone. iPS cells derived from patients' cells provide unprecedented opportunities in disease modeling, drug screening, and toxicological testing. An iPS cell bank constructed from donors with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types would provide significant resources for stem cell therapy. There are some issues to be addressed, such as tumor formation following transplantation and the large diversity between iPS cell clones. We have been working to develop best generation methods to produce clinical-grade iPS cells. We have discovered that an integration-free induction method using episomal vectors increases the generation efficacy and that using L-Myc replacing the oncogene c-Myc can establish high quality iPS cells efficiently.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 42: Medical Physiology and Metabolism

Secondary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology