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Haifan Lin Earns the Francis Amory Prize

February 01, 2024

Haifan Lin, PhD, director of the Yale Stem Cell Center, has been awarded the Francis Amory Prize in Reproductive Medicine and Physiology by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Lin is a stem cell biologist who has made essential contributions to the fields of reproductive biology, developmental biology, and stem cell biology.

Lin is Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine; and professor of genetics; of obstetrics, gynecology & reproductive sciences; and of dermatology. He was elected to the American Academy in 2018.

“Haifan Lin’s numerous important discoveries make him not only a leader in stem cell research, but also a scientist who has contributed to a range of fundamental breakthroughs,” said David Oxtoby, PhD, president of the American Academy. “The Academy is pleased to honor his determined spirit, zest for discovery, and rigorous approach to research.”

“I feel extremely honored by this prize because it represents a seal of approval of my work from this esteemed academy,” Lin said. “I also feel humbled by this prize because its past recipients are my inspiring role models. I want to thank my former and current lab members, whose dedication and many contributions are integral to my research. I’m grateful to my mentors, colleagues, friends, family, and Yale, for their unwavering support.”

Lin’s area of expertise includes the molecular mechanisms underlying the self-renewing division of stem cells, focusing on the processes required for renewal of germline and embryonic stem cells. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and create specialized cells plays a central role in generating and maintaining most tissues in higher organisms.

His contributions include the discovery of the Argonaute/Piwi protein family and examination of its function in stem cell maintenance, germline development, epigenetic programming, and post-transcriptional regulation. He and others discovered millions of small noncoding RNAs that are encoded by “junk DNA” and partner with Piwi proteins, called Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA), a discovery hailed by Science magazine as one of the top-10 breakthroughs of 2006. He also studies stem cell-related cancers.

In 2006, Lin moved to Yale from Duke University Medical School to establish the Yale Stem Cell Center, building it from just two labs to one of the largest stem cell research organizations in the world with 102 member labs.

First awarded in 1940, the Amory Prize recognizes outstanding scientific achievements in reproductive biology and medical care. Lin will receive the prize during a ceremony at Yale in March 2024.

Submitted by Robert Forman on February 01, 2024