Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, who graduated from
 Kobe University School of Medicine, has won the 2009 Lasker Award.
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Professor of Kyoto University, who graduated from Kobe University School of Medicine in 1987, was honored with the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his discovery of a method of reprogramming adult skin cells to become embryonic-like stem cells. The Awards were presented at a ceremony in New York on October 2, 2009. The Lasker Awards are one of the most prestigious medical research awards in basic and clinical medical research and public service.

Yamanaka and his colleague demonstrated induction of pluripotent stem cells from adult mouse fibroblasts by introducing four factors, Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4, under ES cell culture conditions (Takahashi and Yamanaka, Cell 126:663-676, 2006). They designated these cells iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells. These four transgenes (Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4,) are now referred to as Yamanaka factors. Later, Yamanaka and his colleague succeeded in generation of iPS cells from adult human dermal fibroblasts with the same four factors (Takahashi et al., Cell 131:861-87, 2007). Their achievements made a significant progress in the field of regenerative medicine, because patient-derived iPS cells will enable rejection-free treatment of intractable diseases.
Dr. John Gurdon of Cambridge University in England, who shared Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with Dr. Yamanaka, is a pioneer of stem cell biology. Gurdon took cells from an adult frog's gut, inserted the nucleus into an egg cell whose own nucleus had been removed, and created a tadpole with the genetic characteristics of the original frog (Gurdon, J. Embryol. Exp. Morphol. 10:622?640, 1962). Gurdon's work showed that the nucleus of every cell retains a latent ability to become any other cell type and Yamanaka showed how that capacity can be unleashed. "I'm extremely honored to be recognized by the Lasker Foundation and share this award with Dr. Gurdon, who established the basis for my discoveries," Yamanaka said.

(Photographs were provided by Kyoto University. It is absolutely forbidden to use these images for any other purposes except as presented on this web site.)
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