John Sulston

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 he joined Sydney Brenner's group at the MRC 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 Waterston at Washington University in the USA to sequence the genome of this model organism.

In 1992, Sulston was appointed the first Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire which made the UK's contribution to the international Human Genome Project. The Institute started with temporary labs and only 15 staff but now has a 600-strong workforce and state-of-the-art buildings. Following publication of the first draft sequence of the human genome in 2000 he was listed among the UK's 100 most powerful people by the Observer newspaper. Sir John received his knighthood for services to genome research in the 2001 New Year's Honours. He is the author with Georgina Ferry of The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome. Sulston stepped down as Director in September 2000 and is now chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, where he leads research into the social and ethical impacts of translating scientific research into real-world applications.

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Sir John Sulston

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