Annals of life-changing admission mistakes

We have heard about Verghese Kurien’s switch to metallurgy thanks to his reaching Michigan State University to study diary engineering. Now I learn from here (thanks to Arunn at Nanopolitan) that  a mix-up in the admissions office allowed Sir John Gurdon to study zoology instead of classics and he is the Nobel prize winner in Physiology and Medicine this year!

After receiving the report Sir John said he switched his attention to classics and was offered a place to study at Christ Church, Oxford, but was allowed to switch courses and read zoology instead because of a mix-up in the admissions office.

It was at Oxford as a postgraduate student that he published his groundbreaking research on genetics and proved for the first time that every cell in the body contains the same genes.

He did so by taking a cell from an adult frog’s intestine, removing its genes and implanting them into an egg cell, which grew into a clone of the adult frog.

The idea was controversial at the time because it contradicted previous studies by much more senior scientists, and it was a decade before the then-graduate student’s work became widely accepted.

But it later led directly to the cloning of Dolly the Sheep by Prof Ian Wilmut in 1996, and to the subsequent discovery by Prof Yamanaka that adult cells can be “reprogrammed” into stem cells for use in medicine.

The report in question is very interesting too. Take a look!

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