Yamanaka looking forward to more research after stepping down as CiRA director

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prof. Shinya Yamanaka speaks during an online interview on Tuesday.

Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, who will resign as director of Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at the end of this month, said stepping down was “one of the biggest decisions I have made in my life.”

In an online interview with media on Tuesday, Yamanaka said, “I’d like to spend 50% of my time on research, and 50% as representative director of the CiRA Foundation, [which stockpiles iPS cells and provides them for medical purposes].”

Yamanaka has been the director of the CiRA since the center was established in April 2010.

“The first shipment of iPS cells for medical purposes in 2015 was memorable,” he said, recalling some of the center’s achievements over the last 12 years. “Donations raised by the foundation have enabled us to hire nearly 100 full-time employees.”

Regarding the application of iPS cells in regenerative medicine and drug development, the science is at a “critical point somewhere between basic research requiring government support and practical applications by the private sector,” Yamanaka stressed.

“The foundation will continue to provide a firm bridge to help projects across the ‘valley of death,’” he said, using an expression that describes the critical phase between academic research and commercialization.

Going forward, Yamanaka said, “I’m looking forward to being able to spend several hours each day on research.”