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UCSF scientists elected as members of National Academy of Sciences for excellence in biomedical research

May 25, 2017

In 2006, Yamanaka discovered a way to turn adult skin cells into cells that act like embryonic stem cells. The discovery has since altered the fields of cell biology and stem-cell research, offering new hope for the future of both personalized and regenerative medicine.

Embryonic stem cells - called "pluripotent" because they can develop into any type of cell in the human body - hold tremendous promise for regenerative medicine, in which damaged organs and tissues can be replaced or repaired. Many in the science community consider the use of stem cells key to the future treatment and eradication of a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. But the use of embryonic stem cells is controversial, adding additional import to Yamanaka's discovery of an alternate way to obtain human stem cells.

Yamanaka is the L.K.Whittier Foundation investigator in stem cell biology at Gladstone, and director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University where he is also a professor at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences.

Among the renowned ranks of NAS members were Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Orville Wright. Currently, the society has 2,113 active members and 418 foreign associates - more than 180 active members won Nobel Prizes.

Source: University of California - San Francisco