Sir Paul M. Nurse life and biography

Sir Paul M. Nurse picture, image, poster

Sir Paul M. Nurse biography

Date of birth : 1949-01-25
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Norwich, England
Nationality : English
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-21
Credited as : scientist, cell cycle, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

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Sir Paul M. Nurse, British scientist who, with Leland H. Hartwell and R. Timothy Hunt, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for discovering key regulators of the cell cycle.

Sir Paul Nurse was raised in a working class family, and says he was not a particularly adept student in high school, never doing well on tests. In his spare time, though, he scoured each new issue of Scientific American. His father dropped out of school at the age of 12, and supported his family working at the local Heinz factory. His mother worked as a maid, and raised her four children devoutly Baptist, but Nurse came to see the Bible's story of creation as "a poetic metaphor suitable for an unsophisticated nomadic people." Intrigued by science, after high school he went to work in the laboratory of a local Guinness brewery, where his boss encouraged his curiosity in non-beer related experiments. Eventually he went to the University of Birmingham, where he was among the student protesters who occupied the vice chancellor's office in 1968, and where he earned his doctorate in molecular biology.

Studying baker's yeast, Nurse discovered a specific "cell division cycle" gene, dubbed cdc2, which acts as a switch, controlling the cell-cycle event timing. In later research he found the corresponding gene in humans, which was named cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (cdk1). His work has helped illuminate the scientific understanding of how cells divide, or sometimes become cancerous. Nurse was knighted in 1999, and awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001. His Nobel honors were shared with two other scientists, Nurse's collaborator Tim Hunt and Leland H. Hartwell of the University of Washington. Nurse's advice to young scientists, quoting Max F. Perutz, is to "completely ignore the advice of your elders".

Nurse's work aided in the scientific understanding of cancer. He was knighted in 1999, and in 2005 he received the Royal Society's Copley Medal. On July 8, 2010, Nurse was confirmed as president-elect of the Royal Society.


Lasker Award 1998
Nobel Prize for Medicine 2001 (with Leland H. Hartwell and Tim Hunt)
Copley Medal 2005
World Technology Network

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