Publications: Science Omega Review UK Issue 2

Getting to know Sir John Gurdon

Sir John Gurdon
Sir John Gurdon
Sir John Gurdon
Sir John Gurdon tells Amy Caddick about his career and achievements, and offers some advice to budding young scientists...

Despite being told by a schoolteacher that his intention to become a scientist was a ridiculous notion, Sir John Gurdon has gone on to become one of the most successful and well-known scientists in his field.

My advice would be not to be discouraged by early attempts to satisfy a schoolmaster. In the end, your own hard work and interest will prevail.
Sir John Gurdon
At Christ Church, Oxford, he built on the earlier experiments of Briggs and King into nuclear transplantation to prove that the nucleus of a mature cell can be changed to create an embryonic cell  and still contain all the information needed to develop the organism. It is this early work that paved the way for the cloning of mammals, most notably Dolly the sheep in the 1990s.

Sir John’s work over the last 60 years has undoubtedly revolutionised the way in which we understand cells, and in recognition of this he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize last year for his discoveries in stem cell research.

Here, Amy Caddick asks Sir John what drives his passion for all things cellular, and what has been the most memorable moment in his career...

Where did your passion for biology come from?
I always had an early interest in growing insects and breeding plants at home.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by studying and understanding how cells and organisms function normally.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?
I think the biggest challenge I have faced has been in trying to understand the mechanisms of nuclear reprogramming.

Despite being told you would not succeed in science by a former teacher, you went on to collect a Nobel Prize in Medicine last year. Do you think schools have a significant role to play in shaping the next generation of researchers, and what advice would you give to young people seeking a career in science?
My advice would be not to be discouraged by early attempts to satisfy a schoolmaster. In the end, your own hard work and interest will prevail.

Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
I am particularly grateful for the positive judgements of scientists whom I much respect.

What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered during your research?
The most interesting thing is that it is possible to reprogramme an adult cell nucleus back to the beginning of life.

What are your plans for the future, and what ambitions are you yet to fulfil?
I would like to understand, in molecular detail, how an egg can rejuvenate the nucleus of an adult cell.


[This article was originally published on 10th June 2013 as part of Science Omega Review UK 02]

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