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John Sulston
John Sulston
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John Sulston Profile

Nobel Prize in Medicine

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  John Sulston

When Dr. John Sulston joined the Laboratory of Medical Biology at Cambridge in 1969, few imagined that his work on the millimeter-long nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans would lead to one of the greatest medical and biological discoveries of the age. But his observations of the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death in the worm have enabled our understanding of similar processes in the human. His work on the genome of the nematode served as a trial run for the sequencing of the human genome.

In 1992, Sulston became the first Director of the Wellcome Trust's Sanger Centre at Cambridge, home of the British component of the International Human Genome Project. When commercial interests tried to patent segments of the human genome, Dr. Sulston took a firm stand against commercial exploitation of this research. In the face of powerful opposition, he insured free public access to knowledge that will provide the foundation of biology for centuries to come, a struggle he recounts in his book, The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome. Now retired from the Directorship of the Centre, he has become a leading advocate for public responsibility in science.

He was knighted for his services to science in 2001, and the following year he received the Nobel Prize, but the honor Sir John may value most is the tribute of a fellow Nobelist, who called him, simply, "a scientist's scientist."

This page last revised on Mar 25, 2013 19:34 EDT
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