Sir Paul Nurse, a geneticist who uses fission yeast as a model system, shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Leland Hartwell and R. Timothy Hunt for fundamental discoveries concerning control of the cell cycle.

Paul Nurse was elected Rockefeller University's ninth president in 2003 and prior to that served as chief executive of Cancer Research UK, the world's largest cancer research organization outside the United States. A fellow of the Royal Society since 1989, he took up the post of president of the Royal Society and director of the Francis Crick Institute in London in 2010.

Nurse was elected a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2005.