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John Sulston
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    (March 27, 1942-March 6, 2018)
    Born in Fulmer, England, United Kingdom
    Determined the cell lineage and the genome of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans
    Headed the British division of the Human Genome Project
    Founder and co-chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (2008)
    Co-author of ‘The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome’ (2002)
    Knighted (2001)
    Received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2002)
    After getting only a second-class degree in organic chemistry from Cambridge, he planned to quit science and work abroad with the Voluntary Service Overseas charity. He returned to school for a PhD only when the VSO position fell through.
    His explanation for having the patience to determine the lineage each of the hundred cells in a nematode: ‘I don’t think I had anything else much to do at the time.’
    He agreed to head the British contribution to the Human Genome Project solely because it was the only way he could get the funding to finish sequencing the genome of C. elegans.
    He ponied up some of the bail money for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and lost it when Assange fled to the Ecuadoran embassy.
    He was married to Daphne Bate for 52 years.
    He advocated for making the human genome sequence available to the public for free, saying that profiting off the research would be ‘totally immoral and disgusting.’
    One interviewer noted, ‘For a man at the very top of his profession, he is also an extraordinarily nice guy. He has made few personal enemies on the way up and remains astonishingly self-effacing.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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