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Shinya Yamanaka Wins Kyoto Prize

Awards: Stem cell research garners Japan's top prize for global achievement

by Linda Wang
November 10, 2010

Credit: Inamori Foundation
Credit: Inamori Foundation

Shinya Yamanaka, L.K. Whittier Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and anatomy professor at the University of California, San Francisco, received the 2010 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology during a ceremony on Nov. 10 in Kyoto, Japan.

The Kyoto Prize is Japan's most prestigious private award for global achievement, honoring significant contributions to the betterment of society. Presented annually by the Inamori Foundation, the prize includes a gold medal and a cash gift of approximately $610,000.

Yamanaka was cited for his 2006 discovery of a method for reprogramming adult skin cells to become embryonic-like stem cells, which he named "induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells." Since then, Yamanaka and his colleagues have learned more efficient ways to make iPS cells. They have used these cells to create other types of cells, including neurons and heart cells.

"Although it is still in its infancy, iPS cell technology holds immense possibilities for application in the sphere of medicine," Yamanaka said in his acceptance speech.  "My colleagues and I are determined to continue to do our best in promotion of research that will pave the way for application of iPS cell technology in the spheres of medical care and drug discovery."

In addition to his roles at the Gladstone Institute and UCSF, Yamanaka serves as a professor at Kyoto University and director of its Center for iPS Cell Research & Application.

Other recipients of this year's Kyoto Prize are Hungarian mathematician László Lovász and South African visual artist William Kentridge. The winners will convene in San Diego in April 2011 for the 10th annual Kyoto Prize Symposium.


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