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Whitehead member Rudolf Jaenisch honored for groundbreaking stem cell research
Date:2/16/2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (February 16, 2011) Israel's Wolf Foundation, whose stated mission is "to promote science and art for the benefit of mankind," has named Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch a recipient of the prestigious 2011 Wolf Prize in Medicine.

Jaenisch will share this year's prize with Kyoto University's Shinya Yamanaka for what the Wolf Foundation describes as "their groundbreaking contribution to stem cell research."

Yamanaka is being recognized for his 2006 experiments showing that four genes inserted into mouse skin cells can confer on the cells the properties of embryonic stem cellsincluding pluripotency, or the ability to differentiate into virtually any mammalian cell type. Yamanaka's work, the generation of so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, ushered in a new area of cellular reprogramming.

The following year, Jaenisch advanced Yamanaka's work with the first experiments to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of iPS cells. Jaenisch reprogrammed mouse skin cells into iPS cells, corrected a genetic defect in the cells, and then used the cells to cure a mouse model of sickle-cell anemia. He later used a similar approach to treat a model of Parkinson's disease in rats.

In announcing this year's award, the Wolf Prize Committee stated: "Collectively, the groundbreaking contributions by Dr. Yamanka and Dr. Jaenisch form the basis for work on regenerative medicine currently performed in hundreds of laboratories around the world."

"I'm really very, very honored by this," says Jaenisch. "To be recognized with Shinya Yamanaka in this way is just incredibly gratifying."

The Wolf Prize in Medicine is the third significant honor Jaenisch and Yamanaka have shared in recent years. In late 2008, both were named recipients of the Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize, and this spring, both will receive the Warren Triennial Prize from Massachusetts General Hospital. For Whiteh
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Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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