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Education News

Education: Must try harder!

Nobel Prize-winner Sir John Gurdon didn't impress his teachers. He's not the only success story with a shocker of a report card, as Tim Walker discovers

The Eton schoolmasters who taught Professor Sir John Gurdon, this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology, didn't expect him to pursue a career in science. And why would they?

At 15, Gurdon came last in biology out of all 250 boys in his year group. Ten years later, as a zoology postgraduate at Oxford, he cloned a frog. Now 79, he shares the £750,000 prize with stem-cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka.

Gurdon has revealed that he still keeps a school report framed above his desk reading: "I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist. On his present showing this is quite ridiculous… and it would be a sheer waste of time."