2nd Rodney Porter Memorial Lecture

Prof. Sir John Gurdon, FRS
(Chairman of the Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology, Cambridge)

Professor Sir John Gurdon, FRS, was educated at Eton, where he did Classics, having been advised that he was unsuited for science. He was accepted at Christ Church, Oxford on Classics entrance, but switched to Zoology (Head of Department, Sir Alister Hardy). He did he Ph.D. with Michael Fischberg on nuclear transplantation in Xenopus. He obtained the first clone of genetically identical adult animals. He demonstrated genetic totopotency of somatic cell nuclei by obtaining sexually mature frogs from the nuclei of intestinal epithelium.

He did his postdoctoral work at Cal-Tech on bacteriophage genetics. He returned to Oxford as Assistant Lecturer in Zoology at the Department of Zoology in 1962.

In 1971, he moved to the MRC Molecular Biology Laboratory in Cambridge under the Chairmanship of Max Perutz, subsequently becoming Head of Cell Biology Division. In 1983, he accepted the John Humphrey Plummer Professorship of Cell Biology, vacated by Sir Alan Hodgkin, at the University of Cambridge Zoology Department (Head of Department, Prof Gabriel Horn). He initiated with Prof R. Laskey, Cancer Research Campaign Unit of Molecular Embryology in the Zoology Department of Cambridge University. In 1990, he moved to the new Wellcome CRC Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology in Cambridge. He has served, since 1990, as Chairman of this Institute, which now accommodates 17 independent groups and a total of about 200 persons. Since 1995, he has been Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge, and also from 1995-2000 served as Governor (i.e. Trustee) of the Wellcome Trust.

The main directions of Prof Sir John Gurdonís research have been:

Nuclear transplantation and the reprogramming of somatic nuclei.
The use of Xenopus eggs and oocytes for mRNA microinjection, and hence gene overexpression.
Analysis of signalling in normal development, and the use of signalling factors for the redirection of cell differentiation.
He has received many recognitions for his work, listed below:
Albert Brachet Prize, Belgian Royal Academy, 1968
Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society, 1968
Fellow of the Royal Society, 1971
Feldberg Foundation Award, 1975
Croonian Lecturer and John Jaffe Prize, Royal Society, 1976
Paul-Ehrlich-Ludwig-Darmstaedter Prize, Germany, 1977
Hon. Foreign Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1978
Fellow, Eton College, 1978
Hon. D.Sc., University of Chicago, 1978
Nessim Habif Prize, University of Geneva, 1979
Ciba Medal and Prize of the Biochemical Society, 1980
Foreign Associate, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1980
Docteur Honoris Causa, Université René Déscartes, Paris, 1982
Comfort Crookshank Triennial Award for Cancer Research, Middlesex Hospital Medical School, 1983
Foreign Member, American Philosophical Society, 1983
William Bate Hardy Triennial Prize, Cambridge Philosophical Society, 1984
Foreign Associate, Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Fine Arts, 1984
Priz Charles Leopold Mayer, Academie des Sciences, France, 1984
Honorary Studentship (i.e. Fellowship), Christ Church, Oxford, 1985
Ross Harrison Prize, International Society of Developmental Biology, 1985
Royal Medal, Royal Society, 1985
Fullerian Professor of Physiology and Comparative Anatomy, Royal Institution, 1985
Emperor Hirohito International Prize for Biology, Japan, 1987
Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, University of Oxford, 1988
Wolf Prize in Medicine, 1989
Foreign Member, Lombardy Academy of Science, 1989
Foreign Associate, Académie des Sciences, Institut de France, 1990
Member, Academia Europaea, 1991
Swedish Oncology Society, Jan Waldenstrom Medal, 1991
Distinguished Service Award, Miami, 1992
Knight Bachelor, June 1995
Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, University of Hull, 1998
Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, University of Glasgow, 2000
Jean Brachet Memorial Prize, International Society for Differentiation, 2000
Conklin Medal, Society for Developmental Biology, 2001