Science has Dr. Masayo Takahashi's mother to thank, in a way, for some of the most notable developments in regenerative medicine using stem cells.

More than 35 years ago when Takahashi was contemplating which career she would pursue once she graduated from high school in Osaka, it was her mother who stepped in to offer firm guidance.

"I didn't want to be a doctor at all, but my mother told me I should join the medical department," Takahashi, 57, says with a laugh.