Sir John Gurdon wins Nobel Prize

British developmental biologist Sir John Gurdon has won the 2012 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for his discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed.

October 8, 2012

Sir John, group leader at the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, shares the prize with Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan.

Announcing the prize at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on 8 October, the Nobel Assembly said the scientists' findings had "revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop".

The work has led to a new field of medicine using pluripotent stem cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to be able to develop into any cell type.

Pluriporent stem cells are of interest in research for their potential to create new medicines and disease models without the need to use embryonic tissue, which remains controversial in many parts of the world.

While working on the cloning of frogs at the University of Oxford in 1962, Sir John discovered that the specialisation of cells is reversible, and that mature cells still contain all the information needed to develop into any cell in the body.

Some 40 years later, in 2006, Professor Yamanaka discovered how mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become able to develop into any cell type.

Sir John has also previously served as professor of cell biology and master of Magdalene College at Cambridge and as a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

The prize in physiology or medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes to be issued this year, with prizes in physics, chemistry and peace to be announced later this week.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns