John Gurdon, Ph.D.

Dr. John Gurdon

Dr. John Gurdon

Nobel Prize Winner to Keynote at 2013 Vatican Conference

The Keynote speaker for the Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference, Regenerative Medicine: A Fundamental Shift in Science and Culture, will be Dr. John Gurdon, 2012 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine 2012 for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent. In a keynote address, he will speak about the future of regenerative medicine and education, his own story of the courage of science exploration, as well as the healing potential of our own cells.

Born on October 2, 1933, Dr. Gurdon grew up being interested in biology. Dr. Gurdon was educated at Eton School, but was not allowed to study science; he was taught ancient Greek and Latin. After school he was given private teaching in science, and entered the Zoology Department at Oxford University, England. His fascination with insects led him to apply for a Ph.D. with the Entomology Department, but this was not accepted. He did his graduate work in embryology under Michael Fischberg. Dr. Gurdon wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on nuclear transplantation in
Xenopus laevis (South African clawed frogs). Robert Briggs and Thomas J. King were scientists that were the first to successfully transplant the nucleus from an early stage cell into an egg and Dr. Gurdon extended these experiments using eggs of Xenopus, proving that mature cells could also be used successfully for nuclear transfer, and that genetic material does not undergo irreversible changes with development. He removed the nucleus from a differentiated intestinal cell of a tadpole and transplanted it into an enucleated frog egg. These eggs then grew and produced normal, sexually mature adult frogs.

Over the years, he has been chiefly concerned with research in nuclear transplantation and the molecular mechanism of how a transplanted nucleus is reprogrammed. Dr. Gurdon has identified some of the egg components that can tell a cell how and in which direction to develop. Dr. Gurdon’s research has also analysed gene expression and using Xenopus eggs and oocytes for messenger RNA molecule microinjection, and into the analysis and use of signaling factors in cell development, differentiation and redirection.