Scientists in city celebrate Nobel for friend Gurdon
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Medicine Nobel winner Prof. John Gurdon has won many a heart in Pune during his frequent visits to the city.
His down-to-earth demeanour and the ease with he made friendly exchanges on topics like arranged marriage and traditional attire of Indian women with students at Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) or about his treks to the Himalayas and visits to the Ajanta and Ellora caves, put Prof. John Gurdon high on the popularity charts here.
It was not surprising then that scientists and students on Monday hailed Prof. Gurdon's 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine.
"Prof. Gurdon has visited Pune on a number of occasions, most recently in 2008 when he delivered a talk at an international symposium on stem cell biology organized by the Agharkar Research Institute,'' Dr Surendra Ghaskadbi, Head, Animal Sciences Division, ARI, told The Indian Express.
He had no airs, said Dr Vidya Patwardhan, and ARI scientist.
"It is rather a daunting task to approach a scientist who has made such remarkable contribution to science. But Gurdon was a very simple and put us all at ease. We could talk to him about anything," said Dr Patwardhan. "He did not have any airs and spoke freely with all of us," she added.
The UK scientist, whose cloning work with amphibians was the precursor to cloning in mammals, never tired of responding to students' queries on stem cell biology.
He had even evaluated the thesis of a doctoral student Smruti Phadnis on how bone marrow stem cells can be converted into insulin-producing cells and found it quite good, Ghaskadbi said.
In the cloning hall of fame, Prof. Gurdon occupies a very important place, Ghaskadbi said. He demonstrated for the first time in 1962 cloning in animals. He took nuclei from terminally differentiated somatic cells from intestines of tadpoles and planted them in frog embryos that had their nuclei (nuclei contain all the DNA) removed to grow new tadpoles in the lab. For the past 50 years, Prof. Gurdon has been deciphering secrets of pluripotency (ability to produce several different types of cells) using the frog embryo. Prof. Gurdon's initial work was a strong primer to successful cloning of mamals in recent years including the first, Dolly the sheep.
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