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Fellows Directory

Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1989


Paul Nurse is a geneticist and cell biologist whose discoveries have helped to explain how the cell controls its cycle of growth and division. Working in fission yeast, he showed that the cdc2 gene encodes a protein kinase, which ensures the cell is ready to copy its DNA and divide. Paul’s findings have broader significance since errors in cell growth and division may lead to cancer and other serious diseases.

Paul’s contributions to cell biology and cancer research were recognised with a knighthood in 1999. In addition, Paul’s endeavours relating to the discovery of cell cycle regulatory molecules saw him jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001.

Over the last thirty years, Paul has held many senior research leadership roles. In 2010, he was elected as President of the Royal Society for a five-year term. Since 2011, he has been the Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute, a London-based biomedical research institute due to open in 2015.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Cell biology, Cell cycle inhibitors, Genetics, Scientific public engagement and politics


  • Copley Medal

    For his contributions to cell biology in general, and to the elucidation of the control of cell division.

  • Florey Lecture

    On 'How is the cell cycle regulated?'.

  • Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

    No citation available for this award.

  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

    Jointly with Leland H. Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle.

  • Royal Medal

    In recognition of his work on the control of the cell cycle in eukaryotic cells by his discovery of the identity and function of genes that regulate the key control points in the process of cell proliferation.

  • Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Prize and Lecture

    In recognition of his seminal contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of regulation of the eukaryotic cycle.

  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in New Zealand.