Sir John Sulston graduated from Cambridge University in 1963. After completing his PhD on the chemical synthesis of DNA, he moved to the USA to study prebiotic chemistry (the origins of life on Earth).
In 1969, Sir John joined Sydney Brenner's group at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge where he studied the biology and genetics of the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. He and his team collaborated with Bob Waterstone at Washington University in the USA to sequence the genome of this model organism.
In 1992, Sir John was appointed the first Director of the Sanger Centre in Cambridgeshire which is behind the UK's contribution to the international Human Genome Project. He stepped down as Director in September 2000.
John Sulston is the co-author, with Georgina Ferry, of The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome, to be published by Bantam Press in February 2002, price £17.95. The book tells the story of the sequencing of the human genome from the point of view of one of its leading figures, and discusses what the achievement means for future medical treatments and our understanding of ourselves. In the light of the recent 'gene rush' by companies to stake claims to parts of the genome, the authors argue that the information it contains should be freely available for the benefit of all, and not carved up for private profit.
In October 2002, Sir John Sulston was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine, with Bob Horvitz and Sydney Brenner.
On 28 December 2001, Channel 4 hosted a webchat with Sir John Sulston after the RI lectures on genetics. Find out what you said.
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