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Friday 22 September 2017

Scientist told he was 'waste of time' wins Nobel prize

Nick Collins London

As a struggling 15-year-old he was told by a teacher that even to think about a career as a scientist would be "a sheer waste of time". He came last out of 250 boys in his year for biology.

Yesterday, John Gurdon (79) was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine, for work that led directly to the cloning of Dolly the sheep and the discovery that human adult cells can be reprogrammed to grow into any kind of body tissue.

He shares the £750,000(€927,000) prize with a Japanese stem cell researcher, Shinya Yamanaka.

As a schoolboy Mr Gurdon switched his attention to classics and was offered an undergraduate place at Christ Church, Oxford. He was allowed to switch to zoology after a mix-up and it was as a postgraduate that he published his ground-breaking research, proving for the first time that every cell in the body contains the same genes.

He took a cell from an adult frog's intestine, removed the DNA and implanted it into an egg cell, which grew into a clone of the adult frog.

The work contradicted previous studies and it took a decade before it was widely accepted. It led to the cloning of Dolly, the first mammal created that way, by Prof Ian Wilmut in Edinburgh in 1996, and then to the discovery by Prof Yamanaka that adult cells themselves could be "reprogrammed" into stem cells.

Mr Gurdon said he would probably invest the prize money in a fund he had set up to support PhD students. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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