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Humanists UK welcomes new patron, Sir Paul Nurse

Humanists UK is delighted to announce the appointment of its newest patron, Sir Paul Nurse. Nurse is a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist who joins a stable of over 170 Humanists UK patrons with distinguished careers in the arts, literature, science, academia, politics, and community and civic activism.

Paul Nurse is a renowned geneticist who has received numerous honours and awards for his work. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of protein molecules that control the division of cells in the cell cycle, along with Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt. He was knighted by the queen in 1999 and in 2002 was also awarded France’s highest honour, the Legion of Honour.

As well as being a former President of the Royal Society and the Director General of Cancer Research UK, he is now Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute.

In previous work alongside Humanists UK, Nurse was one of a number of top scientists who backed a Humanists UK petition to the UK Government in 2011, asking for an explicit ban on creationism being taught as science and for evolution to be made a mandatory part of the primary school curriculum. The campaign achieved success in England in 2014. It was revived in Wales in 2019 as the Welsh curriculum came under review.

When asked what makes a good scientist, Nurse said:

‘You have to be driven by a curiosity about how the world works. A sense of scepticism is important as well: be sceptical of everything, including yourself and your own ideas. You also need to be an intellectual and an artisan: there’s no use having a good head on your shoulders if you can’t do a proper experiment.’

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

‘It’s great to be able to announce Paul as our newest patron. Paul is an exemplary scientist with a great number of awards and accolades to prove it. It is an honour to have him join Humanists UK.’


At Humanists UK, we want a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work helps people be happier and more fulfilled, and by bringing non-religious people together we help them develop their own views and an understanding of the world around them.

Humanists UK has over 170 patrons who support its work in various ways through their expertise and prominence in various fields. Existing patrons include significant figures from the spheres of science, philosophy, human rights activism, politics, the arts, and broadcasting. The President of Humanists UK is the anatomist, author, and broadcaster, Professor Alice Roberts. She is supported by Vice Presidents Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor A C Grayling, Shappi Khorsandi, and Polly Toynbee. For a full list of patrons, see

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