Office of the Director - October 11, 2012
Congratulations to NHLBI grantee Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., who has been selected to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 together with Sir John B. Gurdon, Ph.D., for the discovery that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent cells that are capable of developing into any of the cell types of the body. The Nobel committee commended both researchers for revolutionizing our understanding of how cells and organisms develop.
"Yamanaka's work has opened up exciting new directions that are elucidating fundamental mechanisms of cell biology, characterizing how these processes are affected by disease as well as defining new drug development strategies that have great potential to benefit patients," said NHLBI Director Gary H. Gibbons, M.D. "The potential of induced pluripotent stem cells to be differentiated to heart, lung, and blood cells provides promise for their future use in the treatment of a broad range of cardiac, pulmonary, and hematologic diseases."
Although the breakthrough research recognized by the Nobel Assembly was not NIH-funded, Yamanaka is currently an NHLBI-supported investigator as part of the Gladstone Institutes/Stanford University research team in the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium. Consortium teams are working to develop stem and progenitor cell tools and therapies. Yamanaka's initial development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells contributed to the consortium's formation. In collaboration with other consortium investigators, he is now developing new methods to generate iPS cells that can be used for therapies in patients or can assist in discovering the cause of disease.