Dr. Nurse, a native of the United Kingdom, graduated from Birmingham University in 1970 and received his Ph.D. in cell biology and biochemistry from the University of East Anglia in 1973. He did postdoctoral work at universities in Bern, Switzerland, Edinburgh, and Sussex, and joined the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in London in 1984. In 1988 he moved to the University of Oxford as chair of its department of microbiology, and he returned to ICRF in 1993 as director of research. He became director general in 1996 and in 2002 was appointed chief executive of Cancer Research UK, formed when ICRF merged with the Cancer Research Campaign. He moved his laboratory to the United States upon being named president of Rockefeller University in 2003. He is also director of the Anderson Center for Cancer Research at Rockefeller.
Dr. Nurse’s research focuses on the molecular machineries that control cell division and cell shape. 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 molecule controlling S phase and mitosis, findings that have had implications for understanding cell reproduction, cell growth, development and cancer.
Present work in the Nurse laboratory is in three areas: the cell cycle, cell form and genomic studies.