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About the Royal Society

President of the Royal Society comments on the death of John Sulston FRS

09 March 2018

Commenting on the sad news of the death of John Sulston FRS the President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan said, "John, whom I had the great pleasure to know personally, epitomised what it meant to be a great scientist. He made fundamental discoveries in how an organism develops from a single cell by mapping the complete lineage of the nearly 1,000 cells that make up the worm C. elegans. He then went on to build on this discovery by mapping the genes of C. elegans, which paved the way for first sequencing its genome and then the sequencing of the entire human genome. John's leadership of the Sanger Institute from its inception through the years in which the human genome was sequenced led to it becoming one of the world's leading centres for genome research.

John was a highly ethical and public-spirited scientist. He was a strong advocate for keeping the human genome free and publicly available, rather than be in the hands of private corporations. This advocacy has been of enormous benefit as we now enter the field of genomics and personalised medicine. He also contributed to many other social and ethical issues related to science. Finally, he was a much loved human being who was an inspiration and a role model for all who came in contact with him. He will be sorely missed."