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Haifan Lin, PhD

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



The Eugene Higgins 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 stem cells, mouse 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 two labs to currently one of the largest stem cell research organizations in the world with 100 member labs. With Yale's support, he was the Founding Dean (Adjunct) of School of Life Science and Technology at ShanghaiTech University (2014-2022), where he 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 Argonaute/Piwi gene family and elucidated 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), a discovery 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 of gene expression and in post-transcriptional regulation of mRNAs and lncRNAs.

Dr. Lin has played numerous leadership roles in the scientific community world-wide. He is President (2022-2023) of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR); and has served as Director (2009-2019, 2020-), Treasurer (2013-2016), Executive Committee Member, Vice President (2020-2021), and President-Elect (2021-2022) of ISSCR; he was Chair of the Finance Committee (2013-2016); Chair the Publications Committee (2009-2012), and Chair the Annual Meeting Program Committee (2010-2011) of the ISSCR. He led the establishment of ISSCR’s official journal, Stem Cell Reports (2010-2012). Dr. Lin has also served on the Medical Advisory Board of New York Stem Cell Foundation (2009-present), the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Selection Committee (2009), the NIH study sections (1998-2005, 2007, 2012, 2014, 2019-2020), the Board of Directors of the Society of Chinese Biological Investigators, USA (2002-2008), the Council of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (2008-2011), the Advisory Council of RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan (2007-2015), the Scientific Advisory Board of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research (2011-2015), National Key Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (2011-2014), the Council of Shantou University (2010-2015), and the Council of Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2013-2016). He was a co-founder and Core Member of the Connecticut State Government Life Sciences Advisory Group (2011-2012) and served on the Advisory Board of Connecticut Innovation Bioscience Fund (2017-2020).

Dr. Lin has been serving on Editorial Boards of Cell Stem Cells (2007-), Cell Research (2010-), Stem Cell Reports (2013-), National Science Review (2013-), and Science China (2013-). His past editorial board services included Stem Cells (2005-2008), Biology of Reproduction (2009-2010), Journal of Cell Biology (2009-2014), Current Opinion in Cell Biology (2009-2014). He was a Featured Editor of Nature Reports Stem Cells (2009).

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), 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), and the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, USA, Outstanding Science and Innovation Award (2019). He is a Member of US National Academy of Sciences (2018-), a Member of American academy of Arts and Sciences (2018-), and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010-).

Education & Training

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

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Foreign MemberChinese Academy of Sciences2021
MemberUS National Academy of Sciences2018
MemberAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences2018
The Research AwardSociety for the Study of Reproduction2015
Ray Wu AwardThe Chinese Biological Investigators Society2013
The NIH MERIT AwardNational Institutes of Health2012
The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Award.The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation2011
Pioneer AwardNational Institutes of Health2010
The Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar AwardThe Ellison Medical Foundation2010
FellowAmerican Association for Advancement of Science2010

Professional Service

International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)President2022 - Present

Departments & Organizations