Nobel Prize winner Sir John Gurdon talks to reporters on Oct. 8, 2012 in London. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka from Japan have both been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for their work as pioneers of stem cell research. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.
In 1962, John B. Gurdon of the United Kingdom discovered that a cell removed from the gut of a frog contained all the genetic information necessary to create the whole frog. More than 40 years later, Shinya Yamanaka of Japan found that by introducing a few genes to a mature mouse cell, he could reprogram it into a stem cell, capable of developing into any cell in the body.
Gurdon and Yamanaka share this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in cellular reprogramming, 50 years after Gurdon's initial discovery. Their work in stem cells has led to a wave of advances, from cloning animals to allowing scientists to create embryonic cells without having to destroy embryos.