Profile:Mitinori Saitou


Mitinori Saitou

Professor and ASHBi Director

Research Fields

Developmental Biology, Cell Biology

Research Overview

Saitou has been promoting studies on the developmental mechanisms of germ cells, the origin of all life. He clarified the formation mechanisms of mouse germ cells and successfully generated primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) in vitro from mouse ESCs and iPSCs to produce sperm, oocytes and healthy offspring. He used this experimental system as a model to investigate the molecular mechanisms of key phenomena in germ cell development, including epigenomic reprogramming, oocyte differentiation, and meiosis induction mechanisms. Saitou’s analysis of the developmental mechanisms of cynomolgus monkeys has allowed us to identify the characteristics of pluripotent cell lineages in mice, monkeys and humans and the formation mechanisms of germ cells in primates. He has also generated PGCLCs and oogonium from human iPSCs and pioneered research on in vitro reconstitution in the process of human germ cell development.


Saitou aims to promote advanced human biology that develops these studies, to identify the characteristics and evolutionary mechanisms of humans and primates, and to lay out new possibilities in medical science.


1995 M.D., Kyoto University
1999 Ph.D., Kyoto University
1999-2003 Travelling Research Fellow/Senior Research Associate, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute for Developmental Biology and Cancer
2003-2009 Team leader, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology
2009-2018 Professor, Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University
2011-2018 Director, JST Strategic Basic Research Programs ERATO
2013-2018 Adjunct Principal Investigator, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University
2018- Guest Principal Investigator, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University
2018- Professor of KUIAS
Director of Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology, KUIAS

Selected Papers

  1. Saitou, M., Barton, S. C., and Surani, M. A. A molecular programme for the specification of germ cell fate in mice. Nature, 418, 293-300 (2002).
  2. Ohinata, Y., Ohta, H., Shigeta, M., Yamanaka, K., Wakayama, T., and Saitou, M. A signaling principle for the specification of the germ cell lineage in mice. Cell, 137, 571-584 (2009).
  3. Hayashi, K., Ohta, H., Kurimoto, K., Aramaki, S., and Saitou, M. Reconstitution of the mouse germ cell specification pathway in culture by pluripotent stem cells. Cell, 146, 519-532 (2011).
  4. Nakamura, T., Okamoto, I., Sasaki, K., Yabuta, Y., Iwatani, C., Tsuchiya, H., Seita, Y., Nakamura, S., Yamamoto, T., and Saitou, M. A developmental coordinate of pluripotency among mice, monkeys, and humans, Nature, 537, 57-62 (2016).
  5. Yamashiro, C., Sasaki, K., Yabuta, Y., Kojima, Y., Nakamura, T., Okamoto, I., Yokobayashi, S., Murase, Y., Ishikura, Y., Shirane, K., Sasaki, H., Yamamoto, T., and Saitou, M. Generation of human oogonia from induced pluripotent stem cells in vitro, Science, 362, 356-360 (2018).


Osaka Science Prize (2013), Japan Academy Medal, JSPS Prize (2014), Takeda Medical Prize (2016), Academic Award of the Mochida Memorial Foundation (2018), Asahi Prize, Uehara Prize (2019), Imperial Prize and Japan Academy Prize, ISSCR Momentum Award, EMBO Associate Member (2020)