Naoto Ueno received PhD from the University of Tsukuba in 1984. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Roger Guillemin Laboratory at the Salk Institute in the United States, he was involved in the purification and structural determination of inhibin, activin, follistatin and FGFs. After returning to Japan.
He moved on to developmental biology, serving as a lecturer at the University of Tsukuba, professor at Hokkaido University, and professor at the National Institute for Basic Biology. During this time, he isolated genes for BMPs and BMP receptors in Xenopus laevis, studied the mechanism of dorsoventral axis formation, and also investigated the function of Prickle, a factor involved in planar cell polarity. His current research focuses on the physiological significance of physical forces during early development, especially their contribution to cell adhesion.