John Gurdon is a Nobel Prize-winning developmental biologist who performed pioneering research on nuclear transplantation and cloning. In his seminal experiment, John replaced the nucleus of a frog egg with the nucleus of a mature cell from the tadpole intestine. The resulting embryo grew into a healthy clone of the tadpole — indicating that, despite their specialisation, the nuclei of adult cells still hold the potential to become any other type of cell.
However, John’s discovery could not be fully confirmed until Shinya Yamanaka — with whom he was jointly awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine — identified a small set of proteins expressed in embryos that conclusively induced the reversion of an adult somatic cell to an immature state.
John currently investigates the mechanisms by which egg cells reverse the specialisation of adult cells, aiming to produce replacements for damaged tissues from readily available sources, such as the skin. He was knighted for services to developmental biology in 1995, and the techniques that he developed to perform nuclear transfer remain in use today.
Interest and expertise
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
For his unique range of groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of cell and developmental biology. He pioneered the concept that specialised cells are genetically equivalent and that they differ only in the genes they express not the genes they contain,
Croonian Medal and Lecture
On 'Egg cytoplasm and gene control in development'.
On 'How an egg makes an embryo: the initiation of cell differentiation'.
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Jointly with Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.
For his outstanding contributions to the techniques of nuclear transplantation and the use of the amphibian egg for investigations on replication, transcription and translation of genes.
Rutherford Memorial Lecture
Given in Australia.
In the field of medicine for his introduction of the xenopus oocyte into molecular biology and his demonstration that the nucleus of a differentiated cell and of the egg differ in expression but not in the content of genetic material.