Sir John Gurdon is a developmental biologist who pioneered research in cloning and nuclear transplantation.
In 1962, Gurdon removed the nucleus of a fertilized egg cell from a frog and replaced it with the nucleus of a cell taken from a tadpole’s intestine. This modified egg cell grew into a new frog, proving that the mature cell still contained the genetic information needed to form all types of cells.
In 2009 Gurdon received a Lasker Award, and in 2012 he and Shinya Yamanaka were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for discovering that mature cells can be converted into stem cells.
He studied at Eton College boarding school, although he did not achieve particularly good grades and a school report called his ambition to devote himself to science “ridiculous”. Not one to be perturbed he went on to earn his PhD from Oxford University.
He has also spent time working and studying at both Cambridge University and the California Institute of Technology.
In 2004 the Welcome Trust/Cancer Research UK was renamed The Gurdon Institute in his honour.