Nobel Prize Winner Dies at Age 75

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March 09, 2018Mar 09, 2018

John E. Sulston, a great pioneer in the field of genome research, has died at the age of 75. The Sanger Institute, an organization that this pioneer founded, first reported the death on Friday. 

Sulston was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2002 for his work on genetic regulation of organ development. According to NBC News, Sulston led the United Kingdom's contribution to the Human Genome Project, which helped make tremendous strides in medicine and our modern understanding of disease.

The Sanger Institute was first founded in 1992. After founding the institute, Sulston directed it until 2000. This organization conducts research on diagnostics and treatment for genetic disease. After serving as the director of the Sanger Institute, Sulston was also a professor and chairman of the Institute of Science, Ethics, and Innovation at the University of Manchester. He was serving at professor at the time of his death. 

Throughout his life, Sulston had a burning passion for making genome data open to all without restriction. He wanted nothing more but to contribute his passion and intellect for the betterment of humanity. 

“He had a burning and unrelenting commitment to making genome data open to all without restriction and his leadership in this regard is in large part responsible for the free access now enjoyed," said Professor Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Sanger Institute, according to NBC News.

“We all feel the loss today of a great scientific visionary and leader who made historic, landmark contributions to the knowledge of the living world, and established a mission and agenda that defines 21st-century science.”

The Washington Post reports that Sulston was fascinated at an early age with mechanical workings of organisms. 

Sulston graduated from Cambridge University in 1963. He then did his postdoctoral research in California before joining Sydney Brenner's group at Cambridge University Molecular biology lab, where the structure of DNA was first identified. 

Early in his career, Sulston studied the division of cells in adult nematode worms, in hopes of discovering how cells divide and die to create new organisms. His finding proved crucial to understanding how cancer develops, according to NBC News.

He shared hid 2002 Nobel Prize for medicine with Brenner and Robert Horvitz.

In 2017, Sulston was even made a "companion of honor" by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to society and science.

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