John Graham White

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John White

John Graham White

1943 (age 7778) [1]
Alma mater
Known forResearch using Caenorhabditis elegans
Scientific career
Thesis Computer aided reconstruction of the nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans  (1975)
Doctoral advisor Sydney Brenner
Doctoral students Richard Durbin [3]
Other notable students

John Graham White FRS [6] (born 1943) [1] is a Professor Emeritus of Anatomy and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. [1] [2] [7] [8] [9] [10] [ excessive citations ]



White was educated at Brunel University, where he was awarded an undergraduate degree in Physics in 1969. [1] He went on to study for his PhD [11] at University of Cambridge in 1975 for work on computer-aided reconstruction of the nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans supervised by Sydney Brenner. [1]


After working at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, White moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1993. [1] White's research investigates cell division in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans . [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] With collaborators Sydney Brenner, [17] [18] John Sulston [19] and others, White co-developed confocal microscopy and mapped the complete nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans , consisting of 302 neurons and over 7000 synapses. The study was published in 1986 by the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society , [18] and is considered[ by whom? ] to be the first work in the emerging field of connectomes. More recently his research uses:

two collaborative but distinct laboratories, one a biological laboratory that investigates cell division in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, and the other an interdisciplinary Biophotonics Instrumentation laboratory that develops new computational and optical techniques for live cell studies. [2]

White identified the first gene with a demonstrated role in determining synaptic specificity. He studied the role of cell–cell interaction in determining the lineage pattern, stimulating a wide field of research. In more recent work, John and his co-workers partially confirmed his earlier model of cytokinesis; they discovered genes controlling cytokinesis and found features previously thought specific to plant cell division. Recognising the potentialities of laser-scanning confocal microscopy, John built a prototype microscope: with William Bradshaw Amos he developed this into a commercially produced instrument now widely used. [6]

Awards and honours

White was the recipient of the Mullard Award in 1994. He was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 1994[ citation needed ] and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2005. [6]

Personal life

White has been professor emeritus since he retired in 2008. [1]

Related Research Articles

<i>Caenorhabditis elegans</i> free-living species of nematode

Caenorhabditis elegans is a free-living transparent nematode about 1 mm in length that lives in temperate soil environments. It is the type species of its genus. The name is a blend of the Greek caeno- (recent), rhabditis (rod-like) and Latin elegans (elegant). In 1900, Maupas initially named it Rhabditides elegans. Osche placed it in the subgenus Caenorhabditis in 1952, and in 1955, Dougherty raised Caenorhabditis to the status of genus.

Sydney Brenner

Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston. Brenner made significant contributions to work on the genetic code, and other areas of molecular biology while working in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the investigation of developmental biology, and founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, United States.

H. Robert Horvitz American biologist

Howard Robert Horvitz is an American biologist best known for his research on the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Sydney Brenner and John E. Sulston, whose "seminal discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death" were "important for medical research and have shed new light on the pathogenesis of many diseases".

John Sulston

Sir John Edward Sulston was a British biologist and academic who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the cell lineage and genome of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans in 2002 with his colleagues Sydney Brenner and Robert Horvitz. He was a leader in human genome research and Chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester. Sulston was in favour of science in the public interest, such as free public access of scientific information and against the patenting of genes and the privatisation of genetic technologies.

WormBook is an open access, comprehensive collection of original, peer-reviewed chapters covering topics related to the biology of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans . WormBook also includes WormMethods, an up-to-date collection of methods and protocols for C. elegans researchers.

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Research institute in Cambridge, England

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is a research institute in Cambridge, England, involved in the revolution in molecular biology which occurred in the 1950–60s. Since then it has remained a major medical research laboratory with a much broader focus.

Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death. From its early conceptual beginnings in the 1950s, it has exploded as an area of research within the life sciences community. As well as its implication in many diseases, it is an integral part of biological development.

Animal testing on invertebrates

Most animal testing involves invertebrates, especially Drosophila melanogaster, a fruit fly, and Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode. These animals offer scientists many advantages over vertebrates, including their short life cycle, simple anatomy and the ease with which large numbers of individuals may be studied. Invertebrates are often cost-effective, as thousands of flies or nematodes can be housed in a single room.

Victor Ambros American developmental biologist (born 1953)

Victor R. Ambros is an American developmental biologist who discovered the first known microRNA (miRNA). He is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans was first studied in the laboratory by Victor Nigon and Ellsworth Dougherty in the 1940s, but came to prominence after being adopted by Sydney Brenner in 1963 as a model organism for the study of developmental biology using genetics. In 1974, Brenner published the results of his first genetic screen, which isolated hundreds of mutants with morphological and functional phenotypes, such as being uncoordinated. In the 1980s, John Sulston and co-workers identified the lineage of all 959 cells in the adult hermaphrodite, the first genes were cloned, and the physical map began to be constructed. In 1998, the worm became the first multi-cellular organism to have its genome sequenced. Notable research using C. elegans includes the discoveries of caspases, RNA interference, and microRNAs. Six scientists have won the Nobel prize for their work on C. elegans.

Daf-16 Ortholog

DAF-16 is the sole ortholog of the FOXO family of transcription factors in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. It is responsible for activating genes involved in longevity, lipogenesis, heat shock survival and oxidative stress responses. It also protects C.elegans during food deprivation, causing it to transform into a hibernation - like state, known as a Dauer. DAF-16 is notable for being the primary transcription factor required for the profound lifespan extension observed upon mutation of the insulin-like receptor DAF-2. The gene has played a large role in research into longevity and the insulin signalling pathway as it is located in C. elegans, a successful ageing model organism.

Anthony A. Hyman

Anthony Arie Hyman FRS is a British scientist and professor at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.

Jonathan Alan Hodgkin is a British biochemist, Professor of Genetics at the University of Oxford, and an emeritus fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

Judith Kimble is a Henry Vilas Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Medical Genetics and Cell and Regenerative Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Kimble’s research focuses on the molecular regulation of animal development.

Cell lineage

Cell lineage denotes the developmental history of a tissue or organ from the fertilized embryo. This is based on the tracking of an organism's cellular ancestry due to the cell divisions and relocation as time progresses, this starts with the originator cells and finishing with a mature cell that can no longer divide.

Host microbe interactions in <i>Caenorhabditis elegans</i>

Caenorhabditis elegans- microbe interactions are defined as any interaction that encompasses the association with microbes that temporarily or permanently live in or on the nematode C. elegans. The microbes can engage in a commensal, mutualistic or pathogenic interaction with the host. These include bacterial, viral, unicellular eukaryotic, and fungal interactions. In nature C. elegans harbours a variety of different microbes. In contrast, C. elegans strains that are cultivated in laboratories for research purposes have lost the natural associated microbial communities and are commonly maintained on a single bacterial strain, Escherichia coli OP50. However, E. coli OP50 does not allow for reverse genetic screens because RNAi libraries have only been generated in strain HT115. This limits the ability to study bacterial effects on host phenotypes. The host microbe interactions of C. elegans are closely studied because of their orthologs in humans. Therefore, the better we understand the host interactions of C. elegans the better we can understand the host interactions within the human body.

Worm bagging is a process by which C. elegans eggs hatch within the parent and the larvae proceed to consume and emerge from the parent.

Abby F. Dernburg is a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Faculty Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Eileen Southgate is a British biologist who mapped the complete nervous system of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, together with John White, Nichol Thomson, and Sydney Brenner. The work, done largely by hand-tracing thousands of serial section electron micrographs, was the first complete nervous system map of any animal and it helped establish C. elegans as a model organism. Among other projects carried out as a laboratory assistant at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), Southgate contributed to work on solving the structure of hemoglobin with Max Perutz and John Kendrew, and investigating the causes of sickle cell disease with Vernon Ingram.

Paul W. Sternberg is an American biologist. He does research for WormBase on C. elegans, a model organism.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 White, J. G. (2013). "Getting into the mind of a worm—a personal view". WormBook : 1–10. doi:10.1895/wormbook.1.158.1. PMC   4781474 . PMID   23801597.
  2. 1 2 3 "White, John - UW-Engineering Directory, College of Engineering @ The University of Wisconsin-Madison". Archived from the original on 9 December 2013.
  3. Durbin, Richard Michael (1987). Studies on the development and organisation of the nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. EThOS
  4. Malone, C. J.; Misner, L.; Le Bot, N.; Tsai, M. C.; Campbell, J. M.; Ahringer, J.; White, J. G. (2003). "The C. Elegans hook protein, ZYG-12, mediates the essential attachment between the centrosome and nucleus". Cell. 115 (7): 825–836. doi: 10.1016/S0092-8674(03)00985-1 . PMID   14697201. S2CID   2605372.
  6. 1 2 3 Anon (2005). "Dr John White FRS". London: Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:
    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." -- "Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. John Graham White's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  8. Squirrell, J. M.; Wokosin, D. L.; White, J. G.; Bavister, B. D. (1999). "Long-term two-photon fluorescence imaging of mammalian embryos without compromising viability". Nature Biotechnology. 17 (8): 763–767. doi:10.1038/11698. PMC   5087329 . PMID   10429240.
  9. Kimble, J. E.; White, J. G. (1981). "On the control of germ cell development in Caenorhabditis elegans". Developmental Biology. 81 (2): 208–219. doi:10.1016/0012-1606(81)90284-0. PMID   7202837.
  10. Chalfie, M.; Eddy, S.; Hengartner, M. O.; Hodgkin, J.; Kohara, Y.; Plasterk, R. H.; Waterston, R. H.; White, J. G. (1995). "Genome maps. VI. Caenorhabditis elegans. Wall chart". Science. 270 (5235): 415–430. doi:10.1126/science.270.5235.410. PMID   7569996. S2CID   42933365.
  11. White, John (1975). Computer aided reconstruction of the nervous system of Caenorhabditis elegans (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
  12. Hyman, A. A.; White, J. G. (1987). "Determination of cell division axes in the early embryogenesis of Caenorhabditis elegans". The Journal of Cell Biology. 105 (5): 2123–2135. doi:10.1083/jcb.105.5.2123. PMC   2114830 . PMID   3680373.
  13. Podbilewicz, B.; White, J. G. (1994). "Cell fusions in the developing epithelial of C. Elegans". Developmental Biology. 161 (2): 408–424. doi:10.1006/dbio.1994.1041. PMID   8313992.
  14. White, J.; Strome, S. (1996). "Cleavage plane specification in C. Elegans: How to divide the spoils". Cell. 84 (2): 195–198. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80974-5 . PMID   8565065.
  15. O'Connell, K. F.; Leys, C. M.; White, J. G. (1998). "A genetic screen for temperature-sensitive cell-division mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans". Genetics. 149 (3): 1303–1321. PMC   1460235 . PMID   9649522.
  16. Hird, S. N.; White, J. G. (1993). "Cortical and cytoplasmic flow polarity in early embryonic cells of Caenorhabditis elegans". The Journal of Cell Biology. 121 (6): 1343–1355. doi:10.1083/jcb.121.6.1343. PMC   2119718 . PMID   8509454.
  17. White, J. G.; Southgate, E.; Thomson, J. N.; Brenner, S. (1976). "The structure of the ventral nerve cord of Caenorhabditis elegans". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 275 (938): 327–348. Bibcode:1976RSPTB.275..327W. doi: 10.1098/rstb.1976.0086 . PMID   8806.
  18. 1 2 White, J. G.; Southgate, E.; Thomson, J. N.; Brenner, S. (1986). "The structure of the nervous system of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 314 (1165): 1–340. Bibcode:1986RSPTB.314....1W. doi: 10.1098/rstb.1986.0056 . PMID   22462104.
  19. Sulston, J.; Schierenberg, E.; White, J. G.; Thomson, J. (1983). "The embryonic cell lineage of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans". Developmental Biology. 100 (1): 64–119. doi:10.1016/0012-1606(83)90201-4. PMID   6684600.

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