NEWs FROM THE EMBO cOMMUNITy Happy Birthday Dr. Appleyard He was the first director of EMBO and is still widely recognized for laying the foundation for what EMBO is today. On 5 October 2012, SIR RAYMOND K. APPLEYARD celebrated his ninetieth birthday – an opportunity to look back at his early years and his achievements at EMBO. The British physicist took over the steer- ing wheel at EMBO in 1965 – in a crucial year when the Volkswagen Foundation awarded the organization a grant of 687,000 US dollars to cover for an initial period of three years. This funding was instrumental to launch the first short- and long-term fellowships, initial practical courses and to promote the idea of scientific mobility on a European scale. The experience from a previous job helped: Appleyard initiated a similar fellowship programme at the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), where he worked before coming to EMBO. While these programmes were being launched, the Executive Secretary stimulated further politi- cal and science policy discussions and was successful in establishing a fully-fledged inter- governmental funding body for EMBO – the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC). By 1970, thirteen European governments decid- ed to provide long-term support for EMBO programmes. Since that time, EMBC more than doubled its size encompassing 27 member states today. It was mostly Appleyard’s achievement that EMBO fellowships and courses and workshops have become an integral part of European John Gurdon talks at the recent EMBO|EMBL Symposium “Germline Immortality through Totipotency” molecular biology. During the difficult time of the Cold War flaring up between the West and the East, the programmes stimulated very large numbers of international collaborative projects and were used to help train many young European molecular biologists. The first Executive Secretary resigned from his position in June 1973 and was followed by John Tooze. In the same year, the Council had decided that the EMBO secretariat should move from Brussels to Heidelberg in germany, where the European Molecular Biology Laboratory was about to open its doors. In recognition of his scientific achievements Appleyard became honorary doctor of the University of Ulm, germany, and, in 1986, he received a knighthood of the British Empire. mature cell contained all the information needed for the modified cell to develop into an adult frog. More than 40 years later, Yamanaka discov- ered how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed into stem cells. The introduc- tion of genes that encoded for four transcription factors was shown to be sufficient to reprogram the cells into stem cells that are capable of devel- oping into all types of cells in the body. gurdon visited Heidelberg shortly after the Nobel Prize announcement to give one of the Keynote lectures at the EMBO|EMBL Symposium “germline Immortality through Totipotency” on October 13. In his talk, gurdon discussed the phenomenon of resistance, whereby the differentiated state of a cell makes its nucleus resistant to the reprogramming activities of an oocyte. Reprogramming oocytes is now routinely possible but in many cases it does not take place at high efficiency due to biological constraints. “The histone variant protein macroH2A is one chroma- tin protein that helps to confer an inactive state of genes on the inactive X chromosome of female mammals,” said gurdon at the meeting. He went on to describe a procedure by which chromosom- al proteins can be progressively removed from somatic cell nuclei to improve embryonic gene reactivation. Such a system could lead to the identification of chromosomal components that resist reprogramming by oocytes. The removal of these proteins could greatly improve the effi- ciency of nuclear reprogramming. gurdon is a Member of EMBO since 1972 and Yamanaka is an EMBO Associate Member since 2010. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka awarded Nobel Prize SIR JOHN gURDON of the gurdon Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and SHINYA YAMANAKA who works at Kyoto University, Japan, and the gladstone Institutes in the United States have been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. The prize acknowledges research that has gurdon was the first scientist to clone an revealed how mature cells can be repro- animal, a frog, in the laboratory. In 1962, he grammed to become pluripotent. The findings of both scientists are the foundation for much of the research that is underway in the field of regenera- tive medicine. replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus taken from a mature cell from the frog intestine. The DNA of the ©2012 EMBO EMBOencounters | Autumn 2012 | 15 © EMBL Photolab | Hugo Neves © EMBL Photolab | Maj Britt Hansen