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The 2008 Prize in
Life Science & Medicine

Ian Wilmut,
Keith H S Campbell,
Shinya Yamanaka

for their recent pivotal innovations in reversing the process of cell differentiation in mammals, a phenomenon which  advances our knowledge of developmental biology and holds great promise for the treatment of human diseases and  improvements in agriculture practices.

 

Learn More About the Laureate

Ian Wilmut,<br/>Keith H S Campbell,<br/>Shinya Yamanaka

The Contribution

Ian Wilmut, Keith H S Campbell and Shinya Yamanaka through their pioneering work have shown that mammalian cells can be reprogrammed into early stem cells, and in the process have made important contributions to potential new approaches for the treatment of human diseases and to the improvement of agriculture.

 

During the development of vertebrates, including humans, the fertilized egg develops into the embryo, and the cells in the embryo then proceed to differentiate to form somatic cells of different tissues and organs. The fertilized egg is considered totipotent, as it can develop into a whole organism, while the cells in the embryo are pluripotent because they are capable of differentiating into somatic cells that make up all the organs. Half a century ago, it was found by John Gurdon that this developmental clock can be reversed, and that differentiated somatic cells in a frog model could regain their pluripotency or totipotency. Attempts were later made to show that mammalian cells – and human cells in particular – could also be reprogrammed back to a pluripotent state, both to advance our understanding of developmental mechanisms and because of the belief that great therapeutic benefits would flow from such knowledge. The breakthroughs came in the last 15 years. The landmark contributions by the scientists that are honoured with the Shaw Prize have thereby ushered in a new era in stem cell research, with huge potential benefits to mankind.

 

 

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An Essay on the Prize

During the development of vertebrates, including humans, the fertilized egg develops into the embryo, and the cells in the embryo then proceed to differentiate to form somatic cells of different tissues and organs. The fertilized egg is considered totipotent, as it can develop into a whole organism, while the cells in the embryo are pluripotent because they are capable of differentiating into somatic cells that make up all the organs. Half a century ago, it was found by John Gurdon that this developmental clock can be reversed, and that differentiated somatic cells in a frog model could regain their pluripotency or totipotency. Attempts were then made to show that mammalian cells – and human cells in particular – could also be reprogrammed back to a pluripotent state, because it is believed that such knowledge may advance our understanding of developmental mechanisms, and yield new approaches for disease treatment. The breakthroughs came within the last 15 years. The scientists honoured by the 2008 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine used different approaches to reprogramme an adult cell into the totipotent or pluripotent state, and in doing so made important contributions to potential new approaches to improve agriculture practices and to treat human diseases.

 

Ian Wilmut and Keith H S Campbell worked together in the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh for many years, using sheep as the model, in order to understand the early physiology of the egg and how laboratory manipulations can improve our knowledge of the development from egg to birth. They pioneered a new technique of starving embryo cells before transferring their nucleus to fertilized egg cells. The technique synchronized the cell cycles of both cells and the results led Wilmut and Campbell to believe that any type of cell could be used to produce a clone. In 1995, they produced a pair of lambs called Megan and Morag from embryonic cells. They performed nuclear transfer experiments in which nuclei from embryonic, foetal and adult cells of the sheep were transplanted into fertilized eggs derived from ewes. Although the yield was low, they were successful in obtaining live newborn lambs from these transfers. One of the live-born lambs, Dolly, was derived from the transplantation of the nucleus of an adult mammary cell. Thus, Dolly was the first example of the reprogramming of the adult cell back to totipotency in a mammal. They further created a sheep called Polly in which they showed that it was possible to incorporate a human gene into the donor's DNA before cloning, thus indicating that it may be possible to use animals to produce human proteins for the benefit of mankind. Since then, the work of Wilmut and Campbell has been duplicated in many other animal species and has provided approaches to produce useful therapeutic products with cloned animals and to improve agricultural practices.

 

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About the Laureate

Ian Wilmut

Ian Wilmut

Ian Wilmut, born 1944 in Hampton Lucy, United Kingdom, is currently Director of MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Roslin Institute in 1974 and also served as its Director. He graduated from the University of Nottingham and received his doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 1971. He was granted an OBE in 1999 and was knighted in January 2008.

 

10 June 2008, Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Keith H S Campbell

Keith H S Campbell (1954-2012)

Keith H S Campbell (1954-2012) born 1954 in United Kingdom, is currently a Professor of Animal Development, School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. He was a biologist at the Roslin Institute from 1991 – 1997 and thereafter became the Head of Embryology at Pharmaceutical Proteins, Ltd (PPL) Therapeutics until 1999 before he joined the University of Nottingham. He received his Bachelor Degree in Microbiology from the University of London and his doctorate from the University of Sussex in United Kingdom. On 5 October 2012, Professor Campbell passed away in England at the age of 58.

 

10 June 2008, Hong Kong

 

Professor Campbell passed away in Nottingham, United Kingdom, on 5 October 2012.

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Shinya Yamanaka

Shinya Yamanaka

Shinya Yamanaka, born 1962 in Osaka, Japan, is currently a Professor at the Institute for Frontier Medical Science, and Director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application(CiRA), the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences(iCeMS), at Kyoto University. He was a visiting scientist at the Gladstone Institute at the University of California, San Francisco in 2007. He received his MD at Kobe University in 1987 and his PhD at Osaka City University Graduate School in 1993.

10 June 2008, Hong Kong

 

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Feature Story

 

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2008

"Workshop on Cellular Reprogramming, Development and Stem Cells: Cloning in the 10 Years since Dolly" by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, Professor Keith H S Campbell and Professor Shinya Yamanaka