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The great hope for stem cell research is the development of treatments for devastating diseases. UCSF researchers are at the forefront of this effort. The ultimate goal of these studies is to transplant specialized cells, such as heart cells, into patients to regenerate damaged tissues.


The discovery by Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, of Gladstone and UCSF, in 2006, of how to transform ordinary adult skin cells into cells that, like embryonic stem cells, are capable of developing into any cell in the human body signifies a major breakthrough in stem cell research. Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012.


When human embryonic stem cell research began in the late 1990s, only two university labs in the United States were conducting studies – one at the University of Wisconsin and one at UCSF. Both efforts involved a senior scientist and a handful of junior colleagues.