March of Dimes awards $250,000 prize to scientist who discovered how to reprogram human cells

January 26, 2010

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JANUARY 26, - The scientist who reprogrammed adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells has been chosen to receive the 2010 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD.of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, and Kyoto University, Japan, will be honored with the 2010 March of Dimes Prize for his pioneering work that has fundamentally altered the field of developmental biology and will aid research into the prevention of birth defects.

Dr. Yamanaka has reprogrammed human skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells, which are pluripotent, meaning that they have the ability to develop into any kind of cell. The Yamanaka method eliminates the need to obtain stem cells from human embryos, a process that results in the destruction of the embryo.

"Dr. Yamanaka's remarkable achievement makes it possible to have virtually an unlimited number of pluripotent stem cells that have the potential to be used to correct or repair birth defects in children," said Michael Katz, MD, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes Prize is a $250,000 cash award and a silver medal in the design of the Roosevelt dime, in honor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes. The Prize will be awarded to Dr. Yamanaka at a gala black-tie dinner and ceremony on May 3rd, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, during the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies. Also on May 3, Dr. Yamanaka will deliver the Fifteenth Annual March of Dimes Prize Lectures at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Dr. Yamanaka is the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and Professor of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco. He also is the director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, and professor in the Department of Stem Cell Biology at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, both at Kyoto University in Japan.
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The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology has been awarded annually since 1996 to investigators whose research has profoundly advanced the science that underlies the understanding of birth defects. The March of Dimes Foundation created the Prize as a tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk, who received Foundation support for his work to create a polio vaccine.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.

For more information please contact:
Elizabeth Lynch, (914) 997-4286, ELynch@marchofdimes.com
Michele Kling, (914) 997-4613, MKling@marchofdimes.com

March of Dimes Foundation

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