Sir John E. Sulston, PhD

Sir John E. Sulston, PhD
deceased (1942-2018)

Sir John E. Sulston, PhD | Class of 2013

"The currencies of science are discoveries and ideas; the rewards are the excitement of going where nobody has been before."

Sir John E. Sulston, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy and a Nobel Laureate, died March 6, 2018, at the age of 75.

Sulston was born March 27, 1942, in Cambridge, England. He earned a bachelor’s degree and his PhD from the University of Cambridge.

An innovative molecular biologist, Sulston pioneered research into programmed cell death. Much of his research was conducted in a transparent, millimeter-long worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Along with colleagues, he observed cell behavior in the worms, which led to a full-scale sequencing of the worm’s  genome and a deeper understanding of programmed cell death, or apoptosis. This work proved instrumental as he helped establish the United Kingdom’s role in the Human Genome Project.

Sulston was founding director of the Sanger Centre (now the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), and served as a director there from 1992 to 2000. In 2002, Sulston, along with colleagues Sydney Brenner and H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the cell lineage of C. elegans.

Sulston was a professor and chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, University of Manchester, England. He became a passionate advocate for public access to scientific knowledge, including genomic data.

Sulston joined the AACR in 2013 as part of the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy.

Sulston received numerous other honors throughout his career, including the Pfizer Prize for Innovative Science, the George W. Beadle Medal, the Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Medal, and the Edinburgh Medal. In 2017, he was made a Companion of Honor by Queen Elizabeth II for contributions to science and society.

Career Highlights

2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
2002 Dan David Prize
2002 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award
2001 Knight Bachelor of the British Empire (New Year’s Honours)
2001 Prince of Asturias Award (Spain)
2001 The Edinburgh Medal
2000 Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Medal
2000 George W. Beadle Medal
2000 Pfizer Prize for Innovative Science
1998 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award
1996 Darwin Medal of the Royal Society
1991 Gairdner Foundation International Award
1986 Elected Fellow, Royal Society, London
1986 W. Alden Spencer Award
1966 PhD, University of Cambridge, UK