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We have almost 30 years of history and hundreds of alumni spread around the world.

Historical background

We trace our beginnings to a group of developmental biologists and cancer biologists who set up labs together in 1989, and won funding to establish an institute that was opened in 1991 with the title ‘Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research Campaign Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology’. The aim was to foster a collaborative environment for independent research groups with diverse but complementary interests. Our two research directions are like two sides of a coin, whereby developmental biology is concerned with how cells acquire and maintain their normal functions, and cancer is a result of cells escaping from these normal controls.

In 2004, on moving into our present purpose-built building, the Institute changed its name to the Wellcome Trust/ Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute (and has become known as 'The Gurdon Institute') in recognition of the achievements of Professor Sir John Gurdon, one of our founder members.

In 2012, Sir John was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and he continues to conduct his research here.

Where do our alumni go? 

The experience and training that people receive at the Gurdon Institute has led them on to many different and exciting roles worldwide, whether in academic science or other pursuits. We've tracked over 500 alumni from the Institute's first 25 years, and looked at the kinds of roles they have now [data as of November 2016]:

207  Group Leaders in academia

198  Below Group Leader level in academia

113  Commercial science (e.g. drug discovery, bioinformatics)

50    Other science roles (e.g. patent law, clinical medicine, government agency, science communications, tech transfer...)

13   Science funding bodies or journals

25   Non-science (accountancy, business, artist, freelancing...)


Our map shows where we have seeded the global scientific community with Gurdon alumni who are now group leaders pursuing new research in their own labs.

Remember to keep your contact details up to date using our Alumni update form and you can receive occasional news and information from us via email.