Pioneering stem cell scientists have been awarded a million dollar Shaw Prize, at a glittering ceremony in Hong Kong. British researchers Sir Ian Willmut and Professor Keith Campbell, share the life science and medicine prize with Japanese Professor Shinya Yamanaka. Sir Willmut and Professor Campbell are the researchers behind the world's first cloned mammal - Dolly the sheep.
In his work, Professor Yamanaka has shown that adult cells, for example skin cells, can be 'reprogrammed' or induced into becoming pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) . Like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells have the ability to become many different cell types in the body, and utilising them means embryos do not have to be used.
Scientists worldwide are looking at ways in which stem cells can be used to treat many conditions, including spinal injury and Alzheimer's. The work taking place today is based on the ground-breaking studies done by all three winners of the prize.
There are three categories of the prize, and the Shaw Prize for astronomy was presented to Professor Genzel for his proof that the Milky Way contains a super massive black hole at its centre. The award for mathematical sciences was shared by Professors Faddeev and Arnold for their work in mathematical physics, including mapping the motion of the planets around the sun.
The Shaw Prize was established in 2002 by Run Run Shaw, a multi-millionaire Hong Kong film producer and philanthropist, and has been described as the Nobel Prize of the east.