Shinya Yamanaka M.D., Ph.D., a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes—which is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)—has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery 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. Dr. Yamanaka shares the award with Dr. John Gurdon of the University of Cambridge. A former governor of the Wellcome Trust, Professor Gurdon was awarded the Prize for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells that are capable of developing into all tissues of the body. He is widely regarded as the scientist who kick-started the field of cloning. In 1962, Professor Gurdon was the first to demonstrate that the specialisation of cells is reversible when he successfully 'cloned' the South African frog from a tadpole's intestinal cell. By transplanting the nucleus of the intestinal cell into an empty egg cell, he created an organism genetically identical to the tadpole before. The discovery caused shockwaves around the scientific community, not least because a mere graduate student had disproved previously held dogma developed by more famous and established scientists. "John's seminal work, which was carried out in the 1960s, showing that is possible to reprogram a mature frog cell into a nonspecialised, immature cell, was both counterintuitive and with no conceivable application at the time. Yet it now underpins all of regenerative medicine, an area in which the UK remains at the cutting edge. His recognition by the Nobel Prize is very well deserved,” said Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust. The awards were announced on October 8, 2012. Dr.
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