Kids, don't let a bad report card keep you from pursuing your dreams. One prize-winning scientist was warned that his scientific ambitions "would be a sheer waste of time."
British researcher Sir John Gurdon, 79, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka, 50, for groundbreaking work that helped prove that adult cells can be reprogrammed back into embryo-like stem cells and grown into different tissues in the body, and, according to the Nobel Prize Committee, "revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop."
This notable achievement follows Gurdon's 2006 acknowledgement that his childhood dreams of becoming a scientist were once dismissed as "quite ridiculous" by his Eton schoolmaster.
The Nobel prize-winning scientist, who was knighted in 1995, kept the 1949 school report given him when he was just 15.
It reads: "I believe Gurdon has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can't learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him."
Out of the 250 boys in his year group at Eton, Burdon ranked last in biology.
That old school report is the only frames document on his office wall.
"When you have problems, like an experiment doesn't work, which often happens, it's nice to remind yourself that perhaps after all you're not so good at this job, and the schoolmaster might have been right," Gurdon told the Guardian.
Gurdon hopes his successes will encourage others to pursue the sciences, too.
"I hope it encourages others around to feel that science is a good thing to do. There's a danger of some of the best people saying,"I don't want a career in science,'" Gurdon told London reporters of being awarded the prize.
Gurdon's groundbreaking work in the '60s found that all cells contained the same DNA and contained all the information needed to build any specific tissue. Yamanaka expanded on Gurdon's research to discover that adult cells could be reverted back to their embryo-like states and regrown into other tissue types, the Guardian explains.
"Not only are these stem cells ethically sound but they are a perfect match for the person who donated the skin," the DailyMail reported on the research.
"This is not only a giant leap for science, it is a giant leap for mankind. Yamanaka and Gurdon have shown how science can be done ethically. Yamanaka has taken people's ethical concerns seriously about embryo research and modified the trajectory of research into a path that is acceptable for all. He deserves not only a Nobel prize for medicine, but a Nobel prize for ethics," Julian Savulescu, Uehiro professor of practical ethics at Oxford University, says of the researchers' work.
"Scientists are trying to build on the work of Gurdon and Yamanaka to create replacement tissues for treating diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes," the Associated Press reports.