The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has today been jointly awarded to Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of the UK for their stem cell research work around cellular reprogramming.
The two scientists, who carried out their stem cell experiments more than 40 years apart, showed that mature, specialised cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells that are capable of becoming any other cell in the body.
It was in 1962 that Gurdon made the discovery that that the specialisation of cells is reversible. He replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature cell that was derived from the intestine of a tadpole. This modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole.
His technique would later pave the way for the first cloned mammal Dolly, the sheep. Born in 1996, Dolly was cloned from an adult cell.
Born in 1933 in Dippenhall in the UK, Gurdon currently works at the Gurdon Institute, which is part of Cambridge University.