Sir Paul Nurse


Paul Nurse is an English geneticist and cell biologist who has worked on how the eukaryotic cell cycle is controlled and how cell shape and cell dimensions are determined. His genetic research eventually identified a gene that controls the progress of the cell cycle, culminating in the discovery, with his colleagues Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt, of two protein molecules that control cell division, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001, the epitome of scientific excellence.

Paul Nurse’s career is not limited to the laboratory. Over the past 30 years, he has held many senior leadership roles. After working as director of research, and later director general, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, he was appointed chief executive of Cancer Research UK. Following his term as president of the Royal Society from 2010 to 2015, he was selected to head the Francis Crick Institute in London, clearly demonstrating his ongoing commitment to science leadership. He was knighted in 1999, received the Legion d'honneur in 2003, and for 15 years was a member of the Council for Science and Technology advising the UK Prime Minister and Cabinet on science and innovation issues. He is now a member of the EU High Level Group Scientific Advice Mechanism.

But most importantly perhaps is his personal dedication to science education, including his past presidency of Rockefeller University and current chancellorship of the University of Bristol. He is well known for his tireless efforts to champion the scientific process and its vital role in informing public policy for the betterment of society. He is an outspoken defender of evidence-based decision-making, believing that scientific leaders have a responsibility to challenge public officials that attempt to rely on pseudoscience. In light of these extraordinary accomplishments, the University of Ottawa is privileged to award him an honorary doctorate.

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