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John E. Sulston

AKA John Edward Sulston

Born: 27-Mar-1942
Birthplace: Cambridge, England

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Genetic regulation of organ development

Sir John E. Sulston won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002, for his pioneering research into programmed cell death (apoptosis). Using a microscope outfitted with special lenses, he was the first scientist to actually observe as the cells of a millimeter-long worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, divided and died. His work showed that as every healthy individual worm develops into an adult, the same 131 cells are eliminated by killed off in an orderly, sequential process. He shared his Nobel honors with his colleague Sydney Brenner and with H. Robert Horvitz.

Later in his career he co-founded the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, named for two-time Nobel laureate Frederick Sanger. At the Sanger Institute he led a team of several hundred scientists in the United Kingdom's portion of the Human Genome Project. Since retiring he has worked to ensure that the genetic blueprint he worked on remains publicly and freely available, and he has described as "totally immoral and disgusting" the idea of profiteering from such research. He has called for changes in patent law, and specifically complained that pharmaceutical giant Roche's monopoly on sales and marketing of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu denies the drug to patients whose lives may depend upon it.

Father: Theodore Sulston ("Ted", Anglican priest)
Mother: Muriel Sulston (grammar school teacher)
Sister: Madeleine Sulston
Wife: Daphne Sulston (librarian at Cambridge)

    University: BS Organic Chemistry, Cambridge University (1963)
    University: PhD Molecular Biology, Cambridge University (1966)
    Scholar: Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1966-69)
    Scholar: Molecular Biology, Medical Research Council (1969-92)
    Administrator: Director, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (1992-2000)

    Darwin Medal 1996
    Knight of the British Empire 2001
    Dan David Prize 2002
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 2002 (with Sydney Brenner and H. Robert Horvitz)
    Royal Society

Author of books:
The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics, and the Human Genome (2002, with Georgina Ferry)


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