Haifan Lin PhD

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

Departments & Organizations

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

Program in Neurodevelopment and RegenerationStem Cell Center, Yale: Transcriptional Regulation of Stem and Progenitor Cells; Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Cell Symmetry; Stem Cell Genetics; DirectorsCancer Genetics & GenomicsEmbryonic Stem Cell Research OversightCenter for RNA Science and Medicine, YaleSmall RNAs in DevelopmentCell Biology: Cell Biology of RNA; Developmental Cell Biology and GeneticsGenetics | Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences


Professor of Cell Biology, of Genetics, and of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Director of the Yale Stem Cell Center. 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. In addition, Dr. Lin studies germline development and cancers related to the malignant proliferation of stem cells.

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 co-directed the Duke Stem Cell Research Program (2005-2006). Dr. Lin moved to Yale in 2006 to establish 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, the discovery of the Argonuate/PIWI gene family and their essential function in stem cell self-renewal and germline development, as well as the discovery 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 of 2006. He proposed and demonstrated the crucial function of piRNAs as guiding molecules in epigenetic programming. Currently, his research is focused on the role of piRNA-meidated mechanisms in regulating stem cell behavior and development.

Dr. Lin has had many responsibilities in the scientific community. He has served on the NIH study sections (1998-2005) the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Interview Committee (2009), the Editorial Boards of Stem Cells (2005-2008), Cell Stem Cells (2007-), StemBook (2007-), Journal of Cell Biology (2009-), Current Opinion in Cell Biology (2009-), Biology of Reproduction (2009-2010), Cell Research (2010-), National Science Review (2013-), and was a Featured Editor for Nature Reports Stem Cells (2009). He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Chinese Biological Investigators (2002-2008), the Board of Directors of International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR, 2009-), and is Chair of the ISSCR Publication Committee (2009-2012) and Chair of the 2011 Annual Meeting Program Committee (2010-2011). In addition, he serves on the Advisory Council of RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan (2007-), the Council of Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (2008-2011), the Medical Advisory Board of New York Stem Cell Foundation (2009-), Shantou University Council (2010-), the External Advisory Board of the Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, NHLBI, NIH (2010-2012), and advisory committees of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2008-) and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2010-), among other extramural responsibilities.

Dr. Lin received numerous awards and honors, including the 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), 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), and an NIH MERIT Award (2012). Dr. Lin is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2010-).


  • B.S., Fudan University , 1982
  • Ph.D., Cornell University , 1990

Selected Publication

  • Ross, R., J., Weiner, M. M., and Lin, H. PIWI Proteins and piRNAs in the Soma. Nature (in press)

Latest Honor and Recognition

  • Pioneer Award(2010) , National Institutes of Health
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