Sir Paul Nurse is a 2001 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine, born in Norfolk and raised in
London, where he attended Harrow County Grammar School. In 1970 he received a degree in biology
at the University of Birmingham and a PhD in 1973 from the University of East Anglia for research on
amino acid pools in Candida utilis.
After spending several months in Urs Leupold's laboratory in Bern, Switzerland, where he learned
classical genetics of fission yeast, Dr. Nurse went to the laboratory of Murdoch Mitchison at the
University of Edinburgh for postdoctoral studies on the cell cycle. Here, between 1973-1979, he used
a classical genetic approach to study the cell cycle by identifying and studying a set of cell cycle
defective mutants that have formed the basis of much of his future work. From this work Dr. Nurse
identified the cdc2 gene in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and showed that it
controlled the progression of the cell cycle from G1 phase to S phase and the transition from G2
phase to mitosis.
In 1979 Dr. Nurse set up his own laboratory at the University of Sussex. Here he developed
techniques that allowed him to clone the cdc2 gene from fission yeast and show that it encoded a
protein kinase. In 1984 he joined the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF; this became Cancer
Research UK in 2002), and in 1987 he identified the human cdc2 homologous gene, Cdk1, which
codes for a cyclin dependent kinase. He left ICRF in 1988 to chair the Department of Microbiology at
the University of Oxford. Here he continued his work on the cell cycle but also initiated new research
areas to study cell form and genomics. He returned to the ICRF as Director of Research in 1993, and
in 1996 became Director General of the ICRF and in 2002 the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK.
In 2003 Dr. Nurse became President of Rockefeller University in New York City where he continued to
work on the cell cycle, cell form and genomics of fission yeast. In 2010 (until 2015) he became
President of the Royal Society, and the first Director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, a
position he continues to hold.
Dr. Nurse was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine along with Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells
in the cell cycle. He is noted for discoveries about molecular mechanisms that regulate the cell cycle,
the process by which a cell copies its genetic material and divides into two cells. His work, which is
fundamental to understanding growth and development, is also vital to cancer research, because
mistakes in the cell duplication process can contribute to the formation of tumors.
In 1989 Dr. Nurse was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and in 1995 he received the Royal
Society Royal Medal and became a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. He
received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1998 and was knighted in 1999. He
was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur in 2002 and the Royal Society Copley Medal in 2005. He
was elected a Foreign Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2006
and has been a member of the Council for Science and Technology advising the UK Prime Minister
since 2000. In 2013 he became the winner of the Albert Einstein World Award of Science conferred
by the World Cultural Council. He is presently a science advisor for the EU as a member of the High
Level Group of the EU Science Advisory Mechanism.
Dr. Nurse has received over 60 honorary fellowships and degrees including those from universities
where he was trained - Birmingham, East Anglia, Edinburgh and Sussex - as well as Oxford and
Cambridge. He is also a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Honorary Fellow of the Royal
Academy of Engineering and the British Academy. Since 2017 he has been Chancellor of the
University of Bristol.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia in Jakarta
Thursday, March 14, 2019:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane (Lao PDR)