Paul Nurse to head world-leading centre for biomedical research and innovation

15 July 2010

Sir Paul Nurse.

Sir Paul Nurse. (Click to view larger image)

The Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse is to become the first Director and Chief Executive of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) planned for central London. For the past two years, Paul has been chairing the UKCMRI Scientific Planning Committee which has been advising on the development of the institute. He will take up his post on 1 January 2011.
UKCMRI has been founded by four of the UK's largest and most successful scientific and academic institutions: the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London). It will carry out research of the highest quality using the latest technology to advance understanding of human health and disease. It will be based at Somers Town alongside St Pancras International in the London Borough of Camden. The project represents a substantial investment from charity and public funders in the future growth of one of the UK's leading sectors.

Paul Nurse said: "I am honoured to have the opportunity to head UKCMRI as it takes shape as one of the foremost biomedical research institutes in the world. This is a time of extraordinary opportunity in our quest to understand the causes of health and disease. UKCMRI will have a key role in developing our understanding and ability to tackle many of the most significant diseases that affect people and their families."

The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said "I very much welcome this appointment. Sir Paul Nurse is ideally qualified to provide both the scientific vision and the leadership required to take forward this major new UK venture."

A Nobel Prize-winning biologist, Paul has been elected the next President of the Royal Society. He is currently President of the Rockefeller University, New York, which he joined in 2003.

The chair of UKCMRI, Sir David Cooksey said: "Paul is an extraordinary scientist and leader. He is the perfect choice to lead the new institute with a wealth of experience in heading some of the world's most prestigious research organisations. He will bring enormous vision and ambition to the new institute - and will cement its place at the heart of global medical research."

Before moving to the United States, Paul spent more than three decades working in the UK, where he was born. He was Director General of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and played a major role in the merger of ICRF with the Cancer Research Campaign which together formed Cancer Research UK - which he went on to lead as Chief Executive.

His research focuses on controls of cell division and cell shape in yeast. It led to the identification of cyclin-dependent kinases as the key regulator molecules controlling the process by which cells make copies of themselves, a discovery that is important for understanding growth, development and cancer.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Tim Hunt and Lee Hartwell in 2001, Sir Paul has won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, as well as other awards and medals.

Paul was honoured with a knighthood for services to cancer research and cell biology in 1999 and is a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

UKCMRI will initially build on the complementary skills and research interests of two of the founders' research institutes, the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI), together with UCL scientists focusing on physics, computing, engineering, imaging and chemistry. Paul will head a scientific leadership team which will include Richard Treisman, Director of Cancer Research UK's LRI, and Jim Smith, Director of MRC NIMR. They will work with Paul Nurse over the coming years to ensure the institute continues to make a real difference to the life chances of millions of people around the world.

Jim Smith said: "I'm delighted we will be working even more closely with Paul in the years ahead. He is an extraordinary and visionary scientist who has the skills and experience to bring together two of the country's foremost biomedical institutions with partners from UCL and beyond."

Richard Treisman added: "Paul has an unmatched experience in bringing together distinct medical research organisations. Under his leadership, UKCMRI will be one of the foremost research institutions in the world building on the extraordinary talent already within NIMR and LRI."

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council said: "The UKCMRI project has attracted an inspirational leader with the drive to cultivate a unique environment for research and innovation. Paul has an outstanding international reputation and has already been instrumental in developing the research vision for UKCMRI. As Director and Chief Executive he will lead the creation of a truly groundbreaking biomedical research institute."

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK: "We are delighted that Paul Nurse has been appointed as the first Director and Chief Executive of the UKCMRI. UKCMRI will push the boundaries of research into the conditions that affect all of us and Paul is exactly the kind of inspirational, world-class leader that the UKCMRI needs to achieve this.

"His track record is unparalleled - few can claim on their CV to have been awarded a Nobel Prize; to have helped form and run the world's largest independent cancer charity, Cancer Research UK; to have run the world-renowned Rockefeller University; and be elected as President of the Royal Society. UKCMRI will be one of the most significant medical research projects anywhere in the world over the next 20 years. But for the biggest impact we should look to those patients in the future, including those with cancer, who will be diagnosed, treated and cured using breakthroughs that will be made in this new institute."

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust said: "Paul is an outstanding and inspirational research leader with exactly the vision and experience needed to position UKCMRI as a world class centre for research. He will be crucial to realising the Centre's focus on turning fundamental discoveries about health and disease into new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic strategies that directly benefit patients."

Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL said: "UCL is delighted by Sir Paul's appointment. He is the ideal person to lead this outstanding Centre. His experience as both a researcher and a scientific leader has already been of huge benefit to UKCMRI and we are delighted that this will continue as the project proceeds."

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