Laurence Hurst

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Laurence Hurst

Professor Laurence Daniel Hurst FMedSci FRS.jpg
Laurence Hurst in 2015, at the Royal Society admissions day in London
Laurence Daniel Hurst

(1965-01-06) 6 January 1965 (age 57)[1]
Ilkley, Yorkshire[1]
EducationTruro School[2][3]
Alma mater
Scientific career
ThesisIntra-genomic conflict and evolution (1991)
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral studentsGilean McVean[9][10]

Laurence Daniel Hurst (born 6 January 1965)[1] FRS FMedSci[11] is a Professor of Evolutionary Genetics in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath[12] and the director of the Milner Centre for Evolution.[13][14][15][16]


Hurst was educated at Truro School[1][2][3] and the University of Cambridge where he studied the Natural Sciences Tripos at Churchill College, Cambridge, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987.[17] After a year at Harvard University he returned to the UK, and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree from the University of Oxford in 1991[8] for research supervised by W. D. Hamilton and Alan Grafen.[8]

Career and Research[edit]

Hurst was a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge from 1993 to 1996[citation needed] and has been a Professor at the University of Bath since 1997.[1]

His research interests[5] include evolution, genetics and genomics using computational and mathematical techniques to understand the way genes and genomes evolve. This has resulted in work on housekeeping genes,[18] gene orders,[19][20] and the evolution of drug resistance in Staphylococcus aureus,[21] Saccharomyces cerevisiae[22][23][24] and the evolution of sexual reproduction / sexual dimorphism.[25]

Hurst works on fundamental problems in the evolution of genetic systems, such as understanding why some sorts of mutations are less damaging than predicted whilst others are more damaging. Mutations that change proteins are, surprisingly, often not especially deleterious. Hurst showed that this was because the genetic code is structured in a way that renders it highly error-proof. Similarly, in applying network representations of gene interactions, he revealed why many deletions of genes have little effect and which deletions tend not to be recessive.[11]

By contrast, Hurst revealed that genomic changes often considered to be relatively harmless – such as gene order changes and mutations at 'silent' sites – are under selection for unanticipated reasons. He also showed how synonymous mutations can disrupt the way gene transcripts are processed. Similarly, in showing that genomes are arranged into gene expression domains, Hurst revealed that genes can affect the expression of other genes in their vicinity. As of 2015 translation of this fundamental work to medicine is a focus of his research.[11]

Awards and honours[edit]

Hurst was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2015.[11] His certificate of election to the Royal Society reads:

Hurst is a leading authority on evolution of genetic systems. He showed that the genetic code is adapted to minimise errors, synonymous mutations in mammals are under selection and gene order is non-random. He was first to recognise the impact of gene expression levels on protein evolution. Hurst spearheaded novel approaches to evolutionary genetics deriving fitness from underlying biochemistry to predict the outcome of laboratory models. This led to fundamental insights into causes of gene dispensability, dominance and variation in gene family size. Hurst, collaborating with cell biologists, identified the human-specific pluripotency gene network and discovered human naïve stem cells.[26]

Hurst was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2003,[15] and elected a member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2004.[4] He was awarded The Genetics Society Medal in 2010.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e Anon (2016). "Hurst, Prof. Laurence Daniel". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U284140. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b "Laurence Hurst CO83". 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Alumni gives talk on the weird and wonderful of biology". 14 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Find people in the EMBO Communities".
  5. ^ a b Laurence Hurst publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  6. ^ Hurst, L.; Hamilton, W.; Ladle, R. (1992). "Covert sex". Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 7 (5): 144–145. doi:10.1016/0169-5347(92)90205-P. PMID 21235987.
  7. ^ Hurst, L.; Grafen, A. (1990). "Sex and flagellation". Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 5 (12): 419–422. doi:10.1016/0169-5347(90)90029-D. PMID 21232406.
  8. ^ a b c Hurst, Laurence Daniel (1991). Intra-genomic conflict and evolution (PhD thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 556449138. EThOS 293434.
  9. ^ McVean, Gilean Alistair Tristram (1998). Adaptation and conflict: the differences between the sexes in mammalian genome evolution (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
  10. ^ "Students and post-docs past and present in the Hurst laboratory". University of Bath. Archived from the original on 15 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d "Professor Laurence Hurst FMedSci FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

  12. ^ Laurence Hurst publications from Europe PubMed Central
  13. ^ Laurence Hurst at the University of Bath Archived 18 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Hurst Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics
  15. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Zoological Society of London Scientific Medal Winners
  16. ^ a b 2010 Genetics Society Medal Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Laurence Hurst CV". Archived from the original on 21 March 2012.
  18. ^ Lercher, M.J.; Urrutia, A.O.; Hurst, L.D. (2002). "Clustering of housekeeping genes provides a unified model of gene order in the human genome". Nature Genetics. 31 (2): 180–183. doi:10.1038/ng887. PMID 11992122. S2CID 5797987.
  19. ^ Hurst, L.D.; Pál, C.; Lercher, M.J. (2004). "The evolutionary dynamics of eukaryotic gene order". Nature Reviews Genetics. 5 (4): 299–310. doi:10.1038/nrg1319. PMID 15131653. S2CID 5252604.
  20. ^ Weber, Claudia C; Hurst, Laurence D (2011). "Support for multiple classes of local expression clusters in Drosophila melanogaster, but no evidence for gene order conservation". Genome Biology. 12 (3): R23. doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-3-r23. ISSN 1465-6906. PMC 3129673. PMID 21414197.
  21. ^ Holden, M. T. G.; Feil, E.; Lindsay, J.; Peacock, S.; Day, N.; Enright, M.; Foster, T.; Moore, C.; Hurst, L.; Atkin, R.; Barron, A.; Bason, N.; Bentley, S. D.; Chillingworth, C.; Chillingworth, T.; Churcher, C.; Clark, L.; Corton, C.; Cronin, A.; Doggett, J.; Dowd, L.; Feltwell, T.; Hance, Z.; Harris, B.; Hauser, H.; Holroyd, S.; Jagels, K.; James, K. D.; Lennard, N.; Line, A. (2004). "Complete genomes of two clinical Staphylococcus aureus strains: Evidence for the rapid evolution of virulence and drug resistance". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101 (26): 9786–9791. Bibcode:2004PNAS..101.9786H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0402521101. PMC 470752. PMID 15213324. open access
  22. ^ Papp, Balázs; Pál, Csaba; Hurst, Laurence D. (2003). "Dosage sensitivity and the evolution of gene families in yeast". Nature. 424 (6945): 194–197. Bibcode:2003Natur.424..194P. doi:10.1038/nature01771. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 12853957. S2CID 4382441.
  23. ^ Pál, C.; Papp, B.; Hurst, L. (2001). "Highly expressed genes in yeast evolve slowly". Genetics. 158 (2): 927–931. doi:10.1093/genetics/158.2.927. PMC 1461684. PMID 11430355.
  24. ^ Weber, C. C.; Hurst, L. D. (2009). "Protein Rates of Evolution Are Predicted by Double-Strand Break Events, Independent of Crossing-over Rates". Genome Biology and Evolution. 1: 340–349. doi:10.1093/gbe/evp033. PMC 2817428. PMID 20333203.
  25. ^ Hurst, Laurence D.; Peck, Joel R. (1996). "Recent advances in understanding of the evolution and maintenance of sex". Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 11 (2): 46–52. doi:10.1016/0169-5347(96)81041-X. ISSN 0169-5347. PMID 21237760.
  26. ^ "Certificate of election: EC/2015/24". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015.