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2011 Albany Prize Winner Announced as Nobel Laureate

ALBANY, N.Y, October 8, 2012—Stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., of Kyoto University in Japan, who was honored  in 2011 with the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, was announced today as a winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Dr. Yamanaka shares the Nobel Prize with Professor Sir John Gurdon of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, England for their work that the Nobel committee says has “revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop.” Their studies found that mature cells can be changed back to stem cells, which can in turn become any type of cell. These iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, which share nearly all the characteristics of embryonic stem cells, also can be made in limitless supply.

In 2006, to the surprise of the scientific community, Dr. Yamanaka reported that he had genetically re-programmed adult cells in mice into an embryonic state. That was followed by the 2007 discovery of human iPS cells, which he produced using human skin cells.

Their work holds significant potential to grow new tissue, thus developing new customized treatments for spinal cord injuries, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, and many other conditions.

Yamanaka shared the 2011 Albany Medical Center Prize with Elaine Fuchs, Ph.D., of the Rockefeller University in New York City and James A. Thompson, V.M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine.

“Dr. Yamanaka’s scientific accomplishments in a relatively short period of time are remarkable and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to him on receiving this honor today. I have no doubt that his work will continue to have a profound impact on our ability to treat stubborn diseases and other conditions that afflict people worldwide,” said James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center and chairman of the Albany Prize National Selection Committee.

Dr. Yamanaka is the fourth Albany Prize winner to go on to win a Nobel Prize. In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., a 2007 recipient of the Albany Prize, was awarded the Nobel for her discovery of the molecular nature of telomeres. Last year, 2009 Albany Prize recipients Bruce Beutler, M.D., and the late Ralph Steinman, M.D., were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discoveries regarding the detailed workings of the immune system.

The Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the largest award in medicine and science in the United States, was established in 2000 by the late Morris “Marty” Silverman.

Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with 350 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: or


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Sue Ford
Extension: (518) 262 - 3421

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