|Sir Paul Nurse|
|Born||Paul Maxime Nurse
25 January 1949 
Norwich, Norfolk, England
University of Birmingham (BSc)
|Thesis||The spatial and temporal organisation of amino acid pools in Candida utilis (1974)|
|Doctoral advisor||Anthony P. Sims|
EMBO Member (1987)
|Spouse||Anne Teresa Nurse (nÃ©e Talbott) (m. 1971)|
It has been a privilege to pursue knowledge for its own sake and to see how it might help mankind in more practical ways.
I met my wife Anne who was a sociology student, and her influence together with activities associated with the student movement of the time opened up my interests amongst other things into the theatre, art, music, politics and philosophy.
Therefore, I reasoned that study of the cell cycle responsible for the reproduction of cells was important and might even be illuminating about the nature of life.
Better understanding of the natural world not only enhances all of us as human beings, but can also be harnessed for the better good, leading to improved health and quality of life.
I have an idealistic view of science as a liberalising and progressive force for humanity.
A key issue in developmental biology at that time was the problem of how cells underwent differentiation, with most workers concentrating on explanations in terms of changes in enzyme and gene regulation.
This possibility bothered me as I thought it was not advisable to remain in one academic environment, and the long dark winters in Edinburgh could be rather dismal.
Like many students, I found the drudgery of real experiments and the slowness of progress a complete shock, and at my low points I contemplated other alternative careers including study of the philosophy or sociology of science.
During the winter my attention was attracted to the changes in the stars and planets in the sky.
I was by far the youngest of the family, and at times it was like being an only child.
After an extensive interview he arranged for my weaknesses in foreign languages to be over-looked and so I started a Biology degree at Birmingham in 1967.
My main efforts focussed on trying to identify the rate controlling steps during the cell cycle. Crucial for this analysis were wee mutants that were advanced prematurely through the cell cycle and so divided at a reduced cell size.
My parents were born in Norfolk and spent their early years working in the big houses of that rural English county, my mother as a cook and my father as a handyman and chauffeur.
I felt strongly that since the pursuit of good science was so difficult it was essential that the problem being studied was an important one to justify the effort expanded.
I was never very good at exams, having a poor memory and finding the examination process rather artificial, and there never seemed to be enough time to follow up things that really interested me.
This time at Birmingham turned me into a general biologist, and ever since then I have always tried to take a biological approach to any research project that I have undertaken.
My parents were neither wealthy nor academic, but we lived comfortably and they were always extremely supportive of my academic efforts and aspirations, both at school and university.
I had a great time investigating the pigments of different mutant fruit flies by following experimental protocols published in Scientific American, and I also remember making my own beetle collection when it was still acceptable to make such collections.
I think it was this curiosity about the natural world which awoke my early interest in science.
At age 11 in 1960, I moved to an academic state secondary school, Harrow County Grammar School for Boys.
Scientific understanding is often beautiful, a profoundly aesthetic experience which gives pleasure not unlike the reading of a great poem.
I decided that the University of Sussex in Brighton was a good place for this work because it had a strong tradition in bacterial molecular genetics and an excellent reputation in biology.