Acclaimed Stem Cell Scientist Joins Gladstone Institutes

Shinya Yamanaka

By Valerie Tucker Acclaimed Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, has joined the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD), where he will continue his research into reprogramming adult cells into embryonic stem cells. Yamanaka is the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at the GICD. He will also be a professor of anatomy at UCSF. "Gladstone will provide Shinya with the resources and facilities to apply his research to human cells," said Deepak Srivastava, MD, GICD director. "Furthermore, we will have the great benefit of his unique knowledge and experience to advance the stem cell capability we've been building." "This is a great coup for Gladstone and for California," said Arlene Chiu, PhD, interim chief scientific officer for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "Dr. Yamanaka's recent discovery in stem cell biology is one of the most significant and most innovative to date. We are delighted that he has elected to pursue his research with human cells here in California." In August 2006, Yamanaka was the first scientist to report, in the journal Cell, on a new method for "reprogramming" skin cells from mice into embryonic-like cells that can differentiate into other types of cells. This month, two separate teams of scientists affiliated with UCLA and MIT published papers confirming the approach. Yamanaka also published a new study in Nature improving on his original research demonstrating that the reprogrammed cells generated from the adult-termed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) had all the properties of embryonic stem cells, including the ability to generate a mouse entirely derived from the reprogrammed adult cells. "If this approach works in human cells, it opens the door to finally generating patient-specific stem cells for therapeutic applications and discovery of disease mechanisms," said Srivastava. "This represents a key hurdle in the stem cell field and Shinya's discovery may obviate many of the ethical concerns surrounding human embryonic stem cell research." The Gladstone Institutes and Yamanaka have had a long relationship. In 1995, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Thomas L. Innerarity, who was an investigator in GICD. "The San Francisco Bay Area is driving stem cell research and innovation," Yamanaka said. "I'm excited to return to Gladstone, which has become an important contributor to this field." "It is especially gratifying to me to see the career of one of our former trainees blossom," said Gladstone President Robert W. Mahley, MD, PhD. "Shinya has grown into the extraordinary scientist that we all knew he would become, and he will add significantly to our stem cell work." Yamanaka received his MD from Kobe University and his PhD from the Osaka City University Graduate School. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at the National Osaka Hospital. After his fellowship at Gladstone, he joined the faculty of Osaka City University Medical School and then moved to the Nara Institute of Science and Technology and finally to the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences at Kyoto University The J. David Gladstone Institutes, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research organization affiliated with UCSF. It is dedicated to the health and welfare of humankind through research into the causes and prevention of some of the world's most devastating diseases. Gladstone is comprised of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease. Related Links: The Gladstone Institutes