Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator

L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology

Phone: (415) 734-2547
Fax: (415) 355-0960
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Other Professional Titles

Investigator, Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone

Professor, Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco

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

Administrative Assistant

Karena Essex
(415) 734-2547

More about Dr. Yamanaka

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka is a Senior Investigator and the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at the Gladstone Institutes. At Gladstone, he conducts research at the Roddenberry Stem Cell Center. Dr. Yamanaka is also a Professor of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco, as well as the Director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) and a Principal Investigator at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, both at Kyoto University. 

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. By introducing the genes for four factors that turn genes on and off, he induced the skin cells of adult mice to become like embryonic stem cells, which he called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. This iPS cell technology represents an entirely new platform for fundamental studies of developmental biology. Rather than using disease models made in yeast, flies, mice or other animals, iPS cells can be taken from patients with a specific disease. As a result, they contain a complete set of the genes that resulted in that disease—representing the potential of an almost perfect disease model for studying disease development, new drugs and treatments.

Dr. Yamanaka’s current research focuses on ways to generate cells resembling embryonic stem cells by reprogramming somatic, or skin, cells. He seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie pluripotency and the rapid proliferation of embryonic stem cells—they can become any type of cell in the body—and to identify the factors that induce reprogramming.

In 1996, Dr. Yamanaka became an Assistant Professor at Osaka City University Medical School. In 1999, he was appointed Associate Professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, where he became a full professor in 2003. He took his current position as a professor at Kyoto University in 2004 and was appointed as a Senior Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in 2007. Since 2008, he has directed CiRA.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Yamanaka 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.

Dr. Yamanaka earned an MD from Kobe University in 1987 and a PhD from Osaka City University in 1993. From 1987 to 1989, he was a resident at the National Osaka Hospital. From 1993 to 1996, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Gladstone.


More scientific details, please

Other Professional Titles

Investigator, Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone

Professor, Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco

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

Administrative Assistant

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.

Current 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?

Joined Gladstone

1993 (postdoc)
2007 (investigator)

Why Gladstone?

I did my post-doctoroal training at Gladstone almost 20 years ago. Since then, Gladstone has been my scientific home in the states.

Key Achievements

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.


Kobe University School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan (MD) (1987)
Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan (PhD) (1993)


International Society for Stem Cell Research, Board of Directors
The Japanese Pharmacological Society
The Japanese Society for Regenerative Medicine
The Molecular Biology Society of Japan
The RNA Society of Japan
The Japanese Orthopaedic Association


  • NAIST Award, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan (2003)
  • Gold Medal, Tokyo Techno Forum 21, Japan (2004)
  • Selected as the Nice-Step researcher by National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Japan (2004)
  • JSPS Prize, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2007)
  • Nikkei BP Technology Award, Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Japan (2007)
  • Twenty-Fifth Osaka Science Prize, Japan (2007)
  • Meyenburg Cancer Research Award, Germany (2007)
  • Asahi Award, Asahi Newspaper Co., Japan (2008)
  • Inoue Prize for Science, Japan (2008)
  • Golden Plate Award, Academy of Achievement, International Achievement Summit Guest of Honor (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)
  • Selected as one of the “TIME 100”, Time magazine’s most influential people in the world (2008)
  • The Sixth Takamine Memorial Sankyo Prize, Japan (2008)
  • Kyoto Souzousya Taisho Awards, Special Prize, 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)
  • Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science (2009)
  • Canada Gairdner International Award, The Gairdner Foundation, Canada (2009)
  • Nikkei BP Technology Award, Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Japan (2009)
  • Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, USA (2009)
  • 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 of the 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 (2010)
  • Warren Triennial Prize of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) (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)
  • Elected to National Academy of Sciences as Foreign Associate (2011)
  • Distinguished Leadership Award, Japan Society of Boston (2011)
  • ISSCR McEwen Centre Award for Innovation (2011)
  • Millennium Technology Award (2012)
  • Nobel Prize, Physiology or Medicine (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 by 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)
  • 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, USA (2013)
  • Honorary degree awarded by The Rockefeller University at 56th Convocation Ceremony (2014)
Syndicate publications

Featured Publications

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhDOkita K, Matsumura Y, Sato Y, Okada A, Morizane A, Okamoto S, Hong H, Nakagawa M, Tanabe K, Tezuka K, Shibata T, Kunisada T, Takahashi M, Takahashi J, Saji H, Yamanaka S. A more efficient method to generate integration-free human iPS cells. Nat Methods. 2011 May; 8(5):409-12. View in: PubMed
Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhDNakagawa M, Takizawa N, Narita M, Ichisaka T, Yamanaka S. Promotion of direct reprogramming by transformation-deficient Myc. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 10; 107(32):14152-7. View in: PubMed