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Nobel Prizewinner acclaims Genome Centre

* 7 October 2003 *

Nobel Prizewinner acclaims Genome Centre

A world-class research centre with world-class scientists is how Nobel Prizewinner Professor Sir Paul Nurse has described the University of Sussex's new Genome Damage and Stability Centre.

Sir Paul, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001 for cell cycle control in cancer, said;  "The scientists here are international leaders in their field and their work is crucial not only for its biological importance but also, critically, for understanding devastating diseases such as cancer. I am sure the centre is going to have a remarkable and productive future."

He was speaking to the university's vice-chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith, the Genome Centre's director Professor Tony Carr and its chairman Professor Alan Lehmann at the official opening of the £5.75 million building (on October 6, 2003), which was funded by the Joint Infrastructure Fund and the Wolfson Foundation.

His visit to Sussex also jogged a few memories. During the 1980s he was a research fellow at the university, working with Professor Carr, who was then his DPhil student.

"It was here that I set up my first research unit and I found it the most exciting place to work," he said. "We were led by [evolutionary biologist] John Maynard Smith - a true polymath. It was, and remains, a strong place for science and it allowed me to develop my work. What is excellent is that the leaders of this centre will remain active in research. They can still be an inspiration to younger students."

The centre already houses ten research groups, who are investigating the links between DNA damage and cancer. It has so far have received five major grants from the Medical Research Council, together with project grants from the European Union, Leukaemia Research Fund, Cancer Research UK, Department of Health and the Wellcome Trust, among others. The total research grant income is approximately £2 million per annum and currently supports approximately 80 researchers and support staff.

Four of the research groups are continuing Sir Paul's original investigations into how simple microorganisms such as fission yeast can contribute to our understanding of the development of cancer.

Sir Paul is about to take up a post as president of the Rockefeller University in New York. He  was previously the director of Cancer Research UK.

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