Masayuki Yamamoto was graduated from Tohoku University School of Medicine in 1979 and Graduate School of Medicine in 1983. In 1983-1986, Yamamoto was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University with Professor Engel. During his doctoral and postdoctoral studies, he proved the presence of erythroid-specific isozyme of 5-aminolevulinate synthase in the heme biosynthetic pathway through molecular cloning.
In 1989, Yamamoto revisited the Engel laboratory and in collaboration identified the GATA family of transcription factors, which are now widely studied as one of the prototype transcription factor families regulating lineage commitment and cell differentiation. In 1991, Yamamoto returned to Japan and starts analyses of the Gata1 and Gata2 genes. He identified hematopoietic enhancer of Gata1, leukemia due to Gata1 knockdown, and established the notion GATA1-related leukemia. In 1995, Yamamoto started a series of analyses on CNC-sMAF family of transcription factors and in 1997, he identified and established the KEAP1-NRF2 system regulating the cellular response against electrophilic and oxidative stresses. Since then, he has been addressing many questions related to this important regulatory pathway.
Yamamoto has received many prizes, including Thomson Scientific Research Front Award (2004), Nissan Science Prize (2008), Leading Edge in Basic Science Award (SOT, 2011), Uehara Prize (2012), Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon (The Emperor of Japan, 2012), Japan Academy Prize (2014), Award for Research Excellence (FAOBMB, 2020), and Lester Packer Award (2021). He also has established the Tohoku Medical Megabank organization in 2012 aiming to support constructive regeneration of the tsunami devastating area from the Great East Japan Earthquake and has been serving as an Executive Director.