Haifan Lin, PhD

The Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and founding Director of Yale Stem Cell Center

Founding Dean (adjunct), School of Life Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University

Member of US National Academy of Sciences

Email: Haifan.lin@yale.edu


Dr. Lin received his B.S. degree from Fudan University (1982), Ph.D. degree from Cornell University (1990), and postdoctoral training at the Carnegie Institution for Science. 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, and moved to Yale in 2006 to establish and direct the Yale Stem Cell Center, building it from two labs in 2006 to one of the largest stem cell research organizations with currently 100 member labs. With Yale’s support, he holds an adjunct position at ShanghaiTech since 2014.

Dr. Lin studies the self-renewing mechanism of stem cells, stem cell-related cancers, and germline development, using Drosophila germline stem cells, mouse germline and embryonic stem cells, Hydra stem cells, and human cancer cells as models. He 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 their essential function in stem cell self-renewal and germline development. He is a discoverer of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), a discovery hailed by the Science Magazine as one of the Ten Scientific Breakthroughs in 2006. Recently, he demonstrated the crucial roles of the Piwi-piRNA pathway in epigenetic programming, post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA and lncRNA, and cancer.

Dr. Lin has served numerous leadership roles in his field and beyond. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (2009-), the Medical Advisory Board of New York Stem Cell Foundation (2009-), Advisory Board of Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (2017-), the NIH CMIR Study Section (2019-), and Editorial Boards of Cell Stem Cell and several other academic journals.

Dr. Lin received more than 30 awards in his career; recent ones include the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2010), the NIH MERIT Award (2012), the Ray Wu Prize (2013, the highest honor by the Chinese Biological Investigators Society), and the Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award (2015). He is a Member of US National Academy of Sciences, a Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science.