Paul Nurse is a geneticist and cell biologist whose discoveries have helped to explain how the cell controls its cycle of growth and division. Using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model system, his laboratory studies the cell cycle and cell morphogenesis controls operative in eukaryotic cells. His major past contribution was the codiscovery of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) as the key regulator molecules controlling S phase and mitosis, findings that have had implications for understanding cell reproduction, cell growth, development and cancer. Paul’s contributions to cell biology and cancer research were recognised with a knighthood in 1999 and he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001 as well as the Royal and Copley medals of the Royal Society.
Over the last thirty years, Paul has held many senior research leadership roles. He became director of research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in London in 1993 and director general in 1996. In 2002 he was appointed chief executive of Cancer Research UK, formed from the merger of ICRF with the Cancer Research Campaign. Between 2003 and 2011 he served as the President of Rockefeller University until his appointment as Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute, London. In 2010, he was elected as President of the Royal Society for a five-year term.