Haifan Lin, PhD

Professor of Cell Biology, of Genetics and of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; Director, Yale Stem Cell Center

Departments & Organizations

Cancer Center, Yale: Genomics, Genetics, and Epigenetics

Cell Biology: Cell Biology of RNA | Developmental Cell Biology and Genetics

Center for RNA Science and Medicine, Yale

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight


Office of Student Research

Program in Neurodevelopment and Regeneration

Small RNAs in Development

Stem Cell Center, Yale: Directors | Stem Cell Genetics | Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Cell Symmetry | Transcriptional Regulation of Stem and Progenitor Cells

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology: RNA Catalysis and Ribonucleoprotein Machines | Computational Biology and Bioinformatics | Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics and Development: Developmental Biology


Professor of Cell Biology, of Genetics, and of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Founding Director of Yale Stem Cell Center, and Founding Dean (Adjunct) of School of Life Science and Technology at ShanghaiTech University. Dr. Lin’s work is focused on the self-renewing mechanism of stem cells, using Drosophila germline stem cells, mouse germline and embryonic stem cells, human embryonic stem cells, and Hydra stem cells as models. He also studies germline development and stem cell-related cancers.

Dr. Lin received his BS degree from Fudan University (1982), and his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University (1990). Following his postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, he joined the faculty of Duke University Medical School in 1994, where he rose to the rank of Full Professor. He founded and directed the Duke Stem Cell Research Program (2005-2006), and moved to Yale in 2006 to establish and direct the Yale Stem Cell Center.

Dr. Lin has made key contributions to the demonstration of stem cell asymmetric division, the proof of the stem cell niche theory. He discovered the Argonuate/Piwi gene family and their essential function in stem cell self-renewal and germline development. He is also a discoverer of a novel class of non-coding small RNAs called PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), which was hailed by the Science Magazine as one of the Ten Scientific Breakthroughs in 2006. More recently, he proposed and demonstrated the crucial roles of the Piwi-piRNA pathway in epigenetic programming and in posttranscriptional regulation of mRNA and lncRNA.

Dr. Lin has provided numerous services to the scientific community and beyond. His past services and honors include the NIH study sections (1998-2005, 2007, 2012, 2014), the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Selection Committee (2009), the External Advisory Board of the Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, NHLBI, NIH (2010-2012), the Board of Directors of the Society of Chinese Biological Investigators (2002-2008), and the Council of Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (2008-2011). He was an Invited Nominator of the MacAuthor Fellows Program (2000, 2003), the Japan Prize (2010, 2011, 2013), and other top prizes (confidential). He is an Oversea Reviewer of Chinese National Natural Science Foundation (2003-2005), Chairman of the 2011 Annual Meeting Program Committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR, 2010-2011) and Chairman of the ISSCR Publications Committee (2009-2012). He also served on the ISSCR Outstanding Young Investigator Award Selection Committee (2009-2013), the Advisory Council of RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan (2007-2015), and Scientific Advisory Board of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research (2011-2015). He was Vice President of the World Wenzhounese Association (2007-2009).

His current leadership roles include Treasurer and Member of Executive committee of the ISSCR (2013-), Board of Directors of the ISSCR (2009-), Chairman of the ISSCR Finance Committee (2013-), Member of the ISSCR Nomination Committee (2013-), the Medical Advisory Board of New York Stem Cell Foundation (2009-), Co-founder and Core Member of the Connecticut State Government Life Sciences Advisory Group (2011-), Advisory Committees of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2008-), National Key Stem Cell Research Programs Strategic Planning Committee of Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2010-), Councilor of Shantou University (2010-), Visiting Chair Professor of Tsinghua University (2002-), and Advisor of the World Wenzhounese Association (2009-).

Dr. Lin has served on Editorial Boards of Stem Cells (2005-2008), Biology of Reproduction (2009-2010), Cell Stem Cells (2007-), StemBook (2007-), Journal of Cell Biology (2009-), Current Opinion in Cell Biology (2009-), Cell Research (2010-), Stem Cell Reports (2013-), National Science Review (2013-), and Science China (2013-). He was a Featured Editor of Nature Reports Stem Cells (2009), and led the establishment of the ISSCR journal Stem Cell Reports (2010-2012).

Dr. Lin received many awards and honors, including the Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship for Medical Research (1990), American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award (1996), the March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Scholar Research Award (1996), the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering (1996), Member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2007-), the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Award (2007, 2011, 2015), the American Society of Andrology Lecturer Award (2008), the Laura Hartenbaum Breast Cancer Foundation’s Legacy for Hope Award (2009), the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award (2010), the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2010), the NIH MERIT Award (2012), the Ray Wu Award (the highest honor by the Chinese Biological Investigators Society; 2013), and the Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award (2015). He is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010- present).

Education & Training

PhD Cornell University (1990)
BS Fudan University (1982)

Honors & Recognition

  • The Research Award Society for the Study of Reproduction (2015)

  • Ray Wu AwardThe Chinese Biological Investigators Society (2013)

  • The NIH MERIT AwardNational Institutes of Health (2012)

  • The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Award.The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation (2011)

  • Pioneer AwardNational Institutes of Health (2010)

  • The Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar AwardThe Ellison Medical Foundation (2010)

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