A Fred Sanger would not survive today's world of science. With continuous reporting and appraisals, some committee would note that he published little of import between insulin in 1952 and his first paper on RNA sequencing in 1967 with another long gap until DNA sequencing in 1977. He would be labeled as unproductive, and his modest personal support would be denied. We no longer have a culture that allows individuals to embark on long-term—and what would be considered today extremely risky—projects.
I found this particularly striking given that another recent Nobel prize winner, Peter Higgs, who identified the particle that bears his name, the Higgs boson, similarly remarked in an interview with the Guardian that, he doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said that: it's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.