Human genome pioneer Professor Sir John Sulston dies

Professor Sir John Sulston. Image Credit: Wellcome

The Wellcome Sanger Institute has announced today the death of their founding director and pioneering scientist, Professor Sir John Sulston.

Sir John founded and directed the Sanger Institute, then Sanger Centre, from 1992 to 2000, leading a historic period of genetic discovery. He led the UK’s contribution to the draft Human Genome, a monumental effort that laid the foundations for the research that is transforming healthcare and understanding of disease today.

Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chair of Genomics England:

In the great tradition of UK pioneering achievements in genomics, from the discovery of the double helix to today’s use of genomic medicine in the NHS, John Sulston stands out as the titan who made the discoveries which opened the way to turning brilliant science into the real practical patient benefit we can deliver today.

Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England said:

John Sulston was an outstanding scientist who created the Sanger Institute. John’s work and leadership in the Human Genome Project has led to major transformations in research and medicine. The 100,000 Genomes Project is one global endeavour that would not be here without his original contribution.

Professor Tim Hubbard, who worked with Sir John on the Human Genome Project, and who is now Head of Genome Analysis at Genomics England said:

John was an inspirational scientist, mentor and friend. Highly principled, he argued for the reference human genome sequence to be freely available to all, to maximise its benefit for humanity. Today’s requirements for scientific data and results to be shared openly have built on that example. The incredible progress in genomics over the last 15 years are a testament to the benefits of this openness.

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