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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 17, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 7
Sir Paul Nurse, Biologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine, to Speak

By Lisa de Nike

Sir Paul Nurse, a British biologist who won the 2001 Nobel Prize in medicine, will give the 2005 Thomas Hunt Morgan Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 20, at Homewood.

The talk, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Mudd Hall Auditorium, is part of the Pioneers in Biology Lecture Series and will be followed by a reception.

Now president of Rockefeller University, Nurse shared the Nobel with fellow Briton Tim Hunt and American Leland Hartwell for their work on the key regulators of the cell cycle. His talk — "Cell Cycle Control in Fission Yeast" — will include a detailed discussion of his Nobel-winning work, which led to the discovery of the gene that controls cell division and continues to offer critical insight into the nature of cancer and other devastating diseases.

"It is a great honor to have Sir Paul take time out of his schedule to come and visit the graduate students here at Homewood," said Seamus Levine-Wilkinson, a member of Pioneers in Biology, a group of graduate students in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences that organizes both the Thomas Hunt Morgan and Christian B. Anfinsen lectures.

Nurse, described in a 2003 British newspaper article as "the David Beckham of science," is known for eschewing the usual lab-coated scientist image. For example, when asked by a reporter how he would spend the million-dollar Nobel Prize, he announced plans to purchase a new, larger Kawasaki motorcycle. But Nurse is extremely serious about cancer research. He serves as joint director of Cancer Research UK, an organization that was formed when the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Fund joined forces in 2002.

Pioneers in Biology was organized this year to expose Johns Hopkins students to Nobel-caliber scientists not just through lectures but also through more casual contact.

"Pioneers in Biology is unique because the speakers [will] participate in several informal activities with the students, providing a significantly different experience for both parties," Levine-Wilkinson said. "After all, for the students, what could be better than eating crabs with a Nobel laureate, and for the guest lecturer, what could be more satisfying than getting to do something fun while visiting to give a talk? Sir Paul Nurse has lived the dream of many, if not all, graduate students. He has made fundamental discoveries that not only continue to guide exciting basic research around the world but that have also offered critical insights into the nature of cancer."

The Thomas Hunt Morgan Lecture takes its name from an alumnus who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1933. Morgan arrived at Johns Hopkins in 1886 to work in a then young Biology Department, earning his doctorate in 1890 for work he did with sea spiders. He won the Nobel when he was at Columbia University, where he spent much of his career.


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