Haifan Lin, PhD

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

Departments & Organizations

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


Center for RNA Science and Medicine

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight

Program in Neurodevelopment and Regeneration

Yale Cancer Center: Genomics, Genetics, and Epigenetics

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

Yale Stem Cell Center: Directors

Office of Cooperative Research


The Eugene Higgins Chair Professor of Cell Biology, Professor of Genetics, of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and of Dermatology, Founding Director of 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, Hydra, and planarian stem cells as models.  He also studies germline development and stem cell-related cancers. 

 Dr. Lin received his B.S. 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, building it from just one lab in 2006 to currently one of the largest stem cell research organizations in the world with 97 research labs.  In 2014, He became the Founding Dean (Adjunct) of School of Life Science and Technology at ShanghaiTech University in China, and has rapidly established a world-class faculty and educational programs in the School.

 Dr. Lin has made key contributions to the demonstration of stem cell asymmetric division and 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 post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA and lncRNA.

Dr. Lin has provided numerous services to the scientific community and beyond.  His past services and honors include the Treasurer and Member of Executive committee of the ISSCR (2013-2016), Chairman of the ISSCR Finance Committee (2013-2016), Chairman of the ISSCR Publications Committee (2009-2012), Chairman of the 2011 Annual Meeting Program Committee (2010-2011), Member of the ISSCR Nomination Committee (2013-2016).  He also served on 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 Nobel Prize, the Japan Prize, the MacAuthor Fellowship, and other top prizes. He was a Councilor of Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2013-2016), an Oversea Reviewer of Chinese National Natural Science Foundation (2003-2005), 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), Co-founder and Core Member of the Connecticut State Government Life Sciences Advisory Group (2011-2012), and Scientific Advisory Board of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research (2011-2015). Councilor of Shantou University (2010-2015), Vice President of the World Wenzhounese Association (2007-2009).

His current leadership roles include the Founding Dean (Adjunct) of School of Life Science and Technology at ShanghaiTech University (2014-), Director of the ISSCR (2009-), the Medical Advisory Board of New York Stem Cell Foundation (2009-), 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-), Visiting Chair Professor of Tsinghua University (2002-), Advisor of the World Wenzhounese Association (2009-), among others responsibilities.

 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 Member of US National Academy of Sciences (2018), a Member of American academy of Arts and Sciences (2018), and an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010-).

Education & Training

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

Honors & Recognition

  • MemberUS National Academy of Sciences (2018)

  • MemberAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences (2018)

  • The Research AwardSociety 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)

  • FellowAmerican Association for Advancement of Science (2010)

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