Magazine article Times Higher Education

HE&me: People

Magazine article Times Higher Education

HE&me: People

Article excerpt

It is now just over a year until one of the most exciting projects in UK research - the Pounds 700 million Francis Crick Institute in central London - is set to open its doors. Its director is Royal Society president and Nobel prizewinning cell biologist Sir Paul Nurse.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Norfolk in 1949.

How has this shaped you?

Being born in Norfolk was something of a quirk of fate. My grandparents were from there but they had moved to Wembley in London. When my mother found herself unmarried and pregnant, she was taken by my grandmother to stay with relatives in Norwich for the last few months of the pregnancy. When I was born, I was brought back to London and presented as my grandmother's child.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I'm not sure that I would want to change much about where I am today, so I would tell myself to trust my own instincts.

Tell us about someone you've always admired.

Charles Darwin, not only a great scientist but also a great communicator. On the Origin of Species is a beautifully written book.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

Overseeing the development of the Francis Crick Institute is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity. There's not really a downside, although a few extra hours in the day would be helpful.

What keeps you awake at night?

Looking at the stars - I am a keen amateur astronomer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A scientist. As a nine-year-old, I watched Sputnik 2 as it sped across the night sky over Wembley. …

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