Building sign in front garden

About the Institute

The Gurdon Institute is world-renowned for studying development to understand disease.

Our mission

Our mission is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of normal development, to determine how these mechanisms are subverted in cancer and other diseases, and to use this knowledge to develop new therapies.

The Institute is embedded within the University of Cambridge, with superb infrastructure core-funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK. Our location facilitates interactions across the University as well as with the vibrant technical hub of Silicon Fen.

Colourful microscopy images on screens in the Rawlins lab
John Gurdon at the 2021 retreat

Our history

The Institute was founded in 1991 according to the vision of John Gurdon and Ron Laskey, to bring together expertise in two research areas: developmental biology and cancer biology.

At first we were housed in a newly built extension to the Pharmacology Department on Tennis Court Road, and in 2004 were lucky to be able to expand into a new building on the adjacent site. We were not called the Gurdon Institute until that time, but throughout this time John Gurdon has remained working at the bench every day.

Well over 1000 researchers at different levels have worked and trained with us, and we now house 13 research groups including many that began life in the earliest years.

Our culture

Everyone’s contribution is valuable and helps the progress of our important research. Researchers are fortunate to have the support of an expert core team who help with admin, finance, media preparation and glasswashing, microscopy and imaging, bioinformatics, computing and public engagement.  We encourage collaborations between labs and promote social as well as work interactions in order that everyone feels a part of our community.


Our impact

Read about the spin-out companies and other wider impacts of our research

Silver beads in two beakers
Rows of bikes in the outsdie bike racks

Cambridge links

The Institute sits in the heart of the city of Cambridge among other Departments of the School of the Biological Sciences. A short bike ride away is the ever-expanding Cambridge Biomedical Campus. As well as being physically close to these colleagues and facilities, we have working links with many local units, including:

  • Departments of Biochemistry, Genetics, PDN, Zoology and Pathology, where our group leaders are affiliated
  • Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
  • Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
  • Cambridge Cancer Centre
  • Milner Therapeutics Institute
  • Babraham Institute
  • Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Genome Campus