In 2007, Shinya Yamanaka was recognized as a “Person Who Mattered” in the Time Person of the Year edition (formerly “Man of the Year”), an annual issue of the United States (US) newsmagazine Time, published in New York City, that features and profiles a person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Yamanaka was also nominated as a 2008 Time 100 Finalist, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by the same magazine.
In June 2010, Yamanaka was awarded the Kyoto Prize, awarded annually since 1985 by the Inamori Foundation, founded by Kazuo Inamori, for reprogramming adult skin cells to pluripotential precursors. Yamanaka developed the method as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, thus circumventing an approach in which embryos would be destroyed.
In September 2010, he was awarded by the International Balzan Prize Foundation, which awards four annual monetary prizes to people or organizations who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, culture, as well as for endeavours for peace and the brotherhood of man, for his work on biology and stem cells.
In May 15, 2011, Yamanaka has been listed as one of the 15 Asian Scientists To Watch by Asian Scientist magazine, a science and technology magazine that was launched as an MIT alumni start-up in March 2011 by the company, Asian Scientist LLP. In June 2011, he was awarded the inaugural McEwan Award for Innovation; he shared the $100,000 prize with Kazutoshi Takahashi, who was the lead author on the paper describing the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells.
A year after, he was awarded the Millenium Technology Prize, the largest technology prize in the world, for his work in stem cells. he shared the 1.2 million euro prize with Linus Torvalds, a Finnish American software engineer and hacker, who was the principal force behind the development of the Linux kernel.