UC San Francisco scientist wins Nobel Prize for work on cell growth

AP File PhotoShinya Yamanaka was at home doing chores when he received the call saying he'd won a Nobel Prize.

AP File PhotoShinya Yamanaka was at home doing chores when he received the call saying he'd won a Nobel Prize.

A Japanese researcher and professor who works at UC San Francisco received the Nobel Prize in medicine, along with another scientist, for the groundbreaking discovery that cells in the body can be reprogrammed into completely different kinds — work that reflects the mechanism behind cloning and offers an alternative to using embryonic stem cells.

The work of British researcher John Gurdon and Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka — who was born the year Gurdon made his discovery — holds hope for treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes by growing customized tissue for transplant. It has spurred a new generation of laboratory studies into other illnesses, including schizophrenia, which may lead to new treatments.

Basically, Gurdon, 79, and Yamanaka, 50, showed how to make the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without the ethical questions those very versatile cells pose, a promise scientists are now scrambling to fulfill.

Yamanaka worked at the Gladstone Institute at UCSF and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan.

He is currently at Kyoto University and also remains affiliated with the Gladstone Institute. Yamanaka is the first Japanese scientist to win the Nobel medicine award since 1987.

Yamanaka told Japanese broadcaster NHK that he was at home doing chores on Monday when he got the call from Stockholm.

“Even though we have received this prize we have not really accomplished what we need to. I feel a deep sense of duty and responsibility,” Yamanaka said.

Choosing Yamanaka as a Nobel winner just six years after his discovery is unusual. The Nobel committees typically reward research done more than a decade earlier, to make sure it has stood the test of time.

Bay Area NewsLocalnobel prizeUCSF

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read