Yamanaka  worked at the Gladstone Institute of San Francisco and Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. He is currently at Kyoto University and is attached to the Gladstone Institute. Yamanaka is the first Japanese scientist to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine since 1987.

When asked how he was going to celebrate, Gurdon said he was invited to the late-afternoon cocktail at 6pm. "I absolutely intend to participate in the toast," he said firmly. He told of his skepticism, on the occasion of the congratulatory call received from Stockholm, explaining that "the call came from someone in Sweden, and his immediate reaction was:` Is it true or is someone making fun of me? Yamanaka said he was honored to share the award with Gurdon "because without his work, which he published 50 years ago - in the year of his birth - and his researches, I would never have done this and we would have never studied on this project. "Yamanaka interviewed, said he did not yet know what he was going to celebrate. "I just need some beer," he said, speaking in videoconference from Japan to thank his colleagues in San Francisco for their support. The choice of Yamanaka as a Nobel winner, just six years after his discovery is unusual.

The Nobel Committees in general, reward research done more than a decade before, to ensure that this has stood the test of time. However, in 2010, the Nobel Prize in physics went to two researchers whose findings were also published six years earlier. In 2006, the two American scientists won the medicine award eight years after their work was published. A member of the Nobel Prize committee, Juleen Zierath said that the findings of Gurdon and Yamanaka, which also brought them a Lasker prize for basic research in 2009, competes "immense potential", including several treatments in of development for Parkinson's disease and diabetes, as cells that produce insulin can be obtained. However, he added that the therapeutic implications are still far away. 

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