British scientist Sir John Gurdon, along with Shinya Yamanaka from Japan, have jointly been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine for their work on stem cell research. Their research has uncovered a way to transform adult cells to an embryonic-like stage, that could lead in the future to damaged body tissue being able to be regrown.

Gurdon held a news conference in London to discuss the research he has been working on for over 50 years.

"In the 1950's we really didn't know whether all your different cells had the same genes or they don't and that was the purpose of the experiments I was doing. And the outcome was that they do. So that means that in principle you should be able to derive any one kind of cell from another, because they have all got the same genes, that was I think the contribution I made at that time," he said.

Gurdon also joked that at school he was told by his teachers to stop studying science.

He said, "I was at a school where you did no science until the age of 15, and then I did one term of science and then the schoolmaster wrote the report, the details of which I can't quite remember, but the main gist of it was that he had heard that Gurdon was interested in doing science and that this was a completely ridiculous idea, because there was no hope whatever of my doing science and anytime spent on it would be a total waste of time, both on my part and the part of the person having to teach him. So that completely terminated my science at school."

Gurdon was the first scientist to clone an animal in 1958, when he produced a healthy tadpole from the egg of a frog with DNA from another tadpole's intestinal cell. The 79-year-old will share the $1.2m worth of prize money from winning the Nobel prize with fellow scientist Yamanaka.

Written by Alfred Joyner