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September 14, 2009

CiRA Director Yamanaka to receive the 2009 Lasker Award

September 14 - The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced that Shinya Yamanaka, director of Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), has received the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award together with Sir John Gurdon of Cambridge University for their breakthrough discoveries into the process that transform differentiated cells to stem cells.

The Lasker Awards are given to scientists who demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in basic medical and clinical medical research, and individuals who have offered great contribution to public service. It is recognized as one of the most prestigious medical research awards in the world.

Yamanaka, who also serves as a senior investigator at the San Francisco-based Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, announced in 2006 that his laboratory successfully generated embryonic-like cells from mouse fibroblasts by introducing 4 genes - Oct3/4, Klf4, Sox2, and c-Myc. This is the first report of establishing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). iPS cells can avoid two major problems facing embryonic stem cells - ethical problems of using embryos to isolate ES cells and risks of immune rejection when ES cells from others are transplanted.

"I am greatly honored to receive the Lasker award and particularly pleased that I share the award with Sir John Gurdon, the father of the nuclear reprogramming," Yamanaka said. "iPS cell technology is an outcome of the works by a great number of researchers, including Sir Gurdon, and efforts by colleagues and students in my laboratory. Researchers around the world have advanced it at rapid speed. I would not be recognized by the Lasker award without these people. I would make utmost efforts to bring the iPS cell technology to medicine at the earliest possible stage."

According to the foundation, Brian J. Druker of Oregon Health & Science University, Nicholas B. Lydon, formerly of Novartis, and Charles L. Sawyers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will receive the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their outstanding work on the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will receive the 2009 Mary Woodard Lasker Public Service Award for his bold policy to advance the public's health.

The award ceremony will be held on Oct. 2 in New York City.

Detailed information about the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation and the Lasker Awards are available at http://www.laskerfoundation.org/

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