Editorial: A scientific genius – and generous to boot

Sir John Gurdon is a remarkable man. Not only has he won this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, but he intends to spend his half-share of the estimated £750,000 prize on funding PhD students in their fourth year, when normal funding usually dries up. This extraordinary act of generosity is typical of the 79-year-old, who still works full time in his Cambridge laboratory.

When the young Mr Gurdon was studying for his own PhD at Oxford in the 1950s, he was supported by the British taxpayer to conduct research into a field that he admits had no practical value, other than furthering the sum of human knowledge. More than half a century later, Sir John can sit back in the knowledge that he helped to kick-start the ongoing revolution in stem cell technology with enormous practical implications in terms of medical treatments. Remarkable indeed.