Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease

Other Professional Titles

L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology
Director and Professor, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA)


(415) 734-2547


(415) 355-0141


Karena Essex
(415) 734-2547

Areas of Investigation

The goal of our laboratory is to generate pluripotent stem cells from human somatic cells. Somatic cells can be reprogrammed either by nuclear transfer into oocytes or by fusion with embryonic stem (ES) cells. These results suggest that oocytes and ES cells contain factors that induce reprogramming. By identifying these factors, it should be possible to induce pluripotency in somatic cells without using embryos or oocytes.

Pluripotent stem cells can be generated from adult mouse-tail tip fibroblasts and adult human fibroblasts by the retrovirus-mediated transfection of four transcription factors, Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4. We designated these cells as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Mouse iPS cells are indistinguishable from ES cells in morphology, proliferation, gene expression and teratoma formation. When transplanted into blastocysts, mouse iPS cells derived from mouse embryonic fibroblasts can give rise to adult chimeras, which are competent for germline transmission. These results are proof-of-principle that pluripotent stem cells can be generated from somatic cells by the combination of a small number of factors.

Lab Focus

Which types of somatic cells are ideal as a source for iPS cell induction?
What are the molecular mechanisms underlying reprogramming by the four factors?
Can the use of retrovirus, which may result in tumorgenesis, be replaced by other methods?
Can small molecules, instead of genes, induce pluripotency in somatic cells?


Demonstrated that not a single “master” transcription factor, but rather a combination of factors, are important for reprogramming of cell fate from one somatic lineage back to a pluripotent state. However, the molecular mechanism of its process remains unclear. Improving our understanding of this mechanism is essential to determine the best induction protocols for each downstream application of iPS cell technology, such as disease modeling, drug screening and cell therapy.


  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (Board of Directors)
  • Japanese Pharmacological Society
  • Japanese Society for Regenerative Medicine
  • Molecular Biology Society of Japan
  • RNA Society of Japan
  • Japanese Orthopaedic Association

Professional titles

L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology
Director and Professor, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA)


  • Kobe University, Japan
  • Osaka City University, Japan

Honors and Awards

2014 Honorary degree, 56th Convocation Ceremony, The Rockefeller University
2013 Honored Citizen of Kyoto City, Japan
2013 Honored Citizen of Higashiosaka City, Japan
2013 The 2013 Kyoto University Shi-Shi Award, Japan
2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Milner Foundation, Isle of Man
2013 Commitment to a Cure Award, The ALS Association Golden West Chapter
2012 Millennium Technology Award
2012 The Kyoto Prefecture Culture Prize, Eminent Merits Prize, Japan
2012 Bunka-Kunsho (Order of Culture), Japan
2012 Osaka Award for Challenge and Pioneer Spirit, Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Japan
2012 The 47th Osaka City Award, Japan
2012 Osaka Governor's Award, Japan
2012 Order of Cultural Merit, Japan
2012 Honored Citizen of Higashiosaka City, Japan
2012 Kyoto Prefecture People's Honor Award, Japan
2012 Nobel Prize, Physiology or Medicine
2011 ISSCR McEwen Centre Award for Innovation
2011 Warren Triennial Prize, Massachusetts General Hospital
2011 King Faisal International Prize for Science (Medicine), Saudi Arabia
2011 11th Annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research
2011 Wolf Prize in Medicine, Israel
2011 Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences (Elected)
2011 Distinguished Leadership Award, Japan Society of Boston
2010 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology
2010 Mayor of Osaka Special Award, Japan
2010 100th Imperial Prize and Japan Academy Prize, The Japan Academy, Japan
2010 Kyoto Medal of Honor, Japan
2010 Person of Cultural Merit, Japan
2010 Medical Award, Japan Medical Association, Japan
2010 26th annual Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology, Japan
2010 Balzan Prize for Stem Cells, Italy
2010 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category, Spain
2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, Lasker Foundation
2009 Nikkei BP Technology Award, Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Japan
2009 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science
2009 Canada Gairdner International Award, The Gairdner Foundation, Canada
2008 Golden Plate Award and Guest of Honor, International Achievement Summit, Academy of Achievement
2008 Robert-Koch Preis, Germany
2008 Nikkei BP Golden Award, Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Japan
2008 The Special Prize for Science and Technology, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan
2008 Chunichi Cultural Prize, Chunichi Newspaper Co., Japan
2008 One of the “TIME 100”, Time magazine’s most influential people in the world
2008 The Sixth Takamine Memorial Sankyo Prize, Japan
2008 Special Prize, Kyoto Souzousya Taisho Awards, Japan
2008 Takeda Prize for Medical Science, Japan
2008 Medals of Honor from the Japanese Government (“Shiju Hosho”, Medals with Purple Ribbon), Japan
2008 Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize
2008 Kyoto Newspaper Taisho, Japan
2008 Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award, American Skin Association
2008 Asahi Award, Asahi Newspaper Co., Japan
2008 Inoue Prize for Science, Japan
2007 JSPS Prize, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
2007 Twenty-Fifth Osaka Science Prize, Japan
2007 Meyenburg Cancer Research Award, Germany
2007 Nikkei BP Technology Award, Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Japan
2004 Gold Medal, Tokyo Techno Forum 21, Japan
2004 Nice-Step researcher, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Japan
2003 NAIST Award, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan