A University of California at San Francisco anatomy professor was named today as a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Shinya Yamanaka, also a senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes, was honored for his discovery that mature cells can be transformed into ones that are "pluripotent," meaning they can develop into any type of cell, similar to stem cells.
The discovery of the new cell technology avoids the necessity of using controversial embryonic stem cells to study diseases, according to UCSF officials.
"He has opened up a whole new field of discovery, and our scientists are working hard to advance the research," UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann said in a statement.
Mayor Ed Lee also issued a statement praising Yamanaka, who is also associated with the University of Kyoto in Japan.
Lee said the discovery provides "boundless potential for medical advancement" and was "another reminder of why we often say that San Francisco is the 'Innovation Capital of the World.'"
Yamanaka, who shares the prize with Dr. John Gurdon of the University of Cambridge, said in a statement that, "the best part about this prize is that it will bring attention to -- and will likely spur -- the important stem cell work that scientists around the world are conducting."
He said the technology "is for patients -- and the more scientists who build on it, the faster we can help those who live with chronic or life-threatening diseases."