The principle that genomic data should be universally shared without commercial involvement owes its widespread acceptance largely to John Sulston. As leader of the British contribution to the international Human Genome Project, Sulston persuaded funders and colleagues of the crucial importance of making a complete, high-quality sequence freely available to the global scientific community. His commitment stemmed from a moral certainty that profit as a motive had no place in science.
In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contribution to understanding how genes control the fate of cells in the developing roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. In his work on the worm cell lineage and, later, genome sequencing, Sulston promoted the idea that investing in large-scale data collection without a specific hypothesis has long-term benefits.