In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka discovered that adult somatic cells can be reprogrammed into an embryonic-like pluripotent state by delivering transcription factors. These reprogrammed cells, known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, have the potential to develop into every cell type in the body and are invaluable tools for disease modeling, drug screening, and cell therapy. iPS cells also provide an unprecedented opportunity for discovery in life science, and in Yamanaka’s lab today, researchers continue to use them to investigate the mechanisms for cell fate determination, the reprogramming process, and pluripotency.

Disease Areas

Genetic Diseases
Intractable and Rare diseases

Areas of Expertise

Cellular Reprogramming
Post-transcriptional Regulation
Stem Cells and iPS Cells
Working in the Yamanaka lab

Lab Focus

Investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie cellular reprogramming by defined factors.
Determining the mechanisms of post-transcriptional regulation and how they influence pluripotency and cell fate.
Establishing an innovative approach to study diseases by in-depth analysis of pluripotent stem cells.

Research Impact

Work from Yamanaka’s lab has demonstrated that a few transcription factors in combination can reprogram cell fate from somatic lineages back to a pluripotent state. This groundbreaking work established the field of iPS cell technology, and hundreds of scientists are now trying to bring the technology to patients. Continuing efforts in Yamanaka’s lab to elucidate the mechanisms underlying pluripotency and reprogramming revealed that beyond the action of transcription factors, post-transcriptional regulation is also critical for cell fate determination. For example, they demonstrated that NAT1 (eIF4G2), a translation initiation factor, plays multiple roles in human stem cells depending on differentiation status. Their research addresses complex interactions between transcriptional control and post-transcriptional regulation, and contributes to innovative therapeutic options for patients including gene and cell therapies.


Professional Titles

Senior Investigator

Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology, Gladstone Institutes

Professor, Department of Anatomy, UC San Francisco

Director Emeritus and Professor, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, Japan


Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, is a senior investigator and the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at Gladstone Institutes. He is also a professor of anatomy at UC San Francisco, as well as a director and professor of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University in Japan.

Yamanaka earned an MD from Kobe University and a PhD from Osaka City University. From 1987 to 1989, he was a resident at the National Osaka Hospital. From 1993 to 1995, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Gladstone. Yamanaka then 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 took his current 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, 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, and the March of Dimes Prize.

How Did You Get Your Start in Science?

“As a young doctor, I saw many patients suffering from intractable diseases, including my own father. I want to overcome those diseases with science.”

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD

Honors and Awards

2018 The 69th NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) Broadcasting Culture Award, Japan

2018 Honorary degree, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

2018 Honorary degree, the University of Tampere

2016 Honorary Distinguished Professor, Hiroshima University, Japan

2015 The Visionary Award by Glaucoma Research Foundation, USA

2015 Elected to the National Academy of Medicine as an International Member, USA

2015 Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa awarded by the Chinese University of Hong Kong

2015 Elected to Academy of Sciences, Institute de France as a Foreign Associate, France

2015 UCSF 150th Anniversary Alumni Excellence Award

2014 Honorary Degree awarded by the University of Hong Kong

2014 JANE Innovation Award, Japan

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

2013 Special Honor Award of the Kyoto Medical Association, Japan

2013 World Visionary Award (Sponsored by Japan Society of Northern California), USA

2013 Member, the Japan Academy (Elected)

2012 Osaka Governor’s Award, Japan

2012 Order of Cultural Merit, Japan

2012 Kyoto Prefecture People’s Honor Award, Japan

2012 Millennium Technology Prize, Technology Academy Finland

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 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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

2011 ISSCR McEwen Centre Award for Innovation

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

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 Honorary Professor by the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST)

2010 Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA

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

2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, Lasker Foundation

2009 Honorary doctorate by the Kumamoto University

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 Massry Prize, Meira and Shaul G. Massry Foundation

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

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 The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, Hong Kong

2008 One of the “TIME 100”, TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world

2008 The Sixth Takamine Memorial Sankyo Prize, 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



Shinya Yamanaka

Lab Members

Thieu Bleu, MS
Research Associate II
Tzu-Chin Chen
Student Intern
Julia Draper, MS
Research Associate II
Justin Henson
Research Associate I
Radia Jamee, MSE
Research Associate I
Aye Khaine
Research Associate I
Akira Kunitomi, MD, PhD
Staff Research Scientist I
Haruko Kunitomi, MD, PhD
Gay Lancero
Senior Research Associate
Sam Perli, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Eugenea Raychaudhuri
Research Associate II
Jonathan Tong
Research Associate I
Ivana Vasic, PhD
Kaho Washizu
Visiting Researcher
Mie Yamanaka
Visiting Researcher