Timothy Hunt teaches summer courses at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. In the meanwhile he studies changes in protein synthesis in sea urchin and clam eggs after fertilization. At the end of the summer, he comes back to Cambridge, but he will visit the Marine Biological Laboratory again in the next years.
Using sea urchin eggs as model organisms, Hunt finds the cyclin molecule. He notices that cyclins begin to be synthesised after the eggs are fertilized and increase in levels during interphase, until they drop very fast in the middle of mitosis in each cell division. He also finds that cyclins are present in vertebrate cells where they also regulate the cell cycle. He shows that the cyclins bind and activate a family of protein kinases, now called cyclin-dependent kinases.
Timothy Hunt is born in Neston, Cheshire, not far from Liverpool. In the aftermaths of World War II, food rationing makes a deep impression on him. The food parcels sent by the Americans condition him strongly in favour of the USA at an early age. Timothy Hunt's education begins at home where his governess teaches him Latin.
Timothy Hunt attends a meeting about haemoglobin in northern Greece. Here, he meets Irving London and asks him to enter his laboratory in New York during the summer of the same year.
Timothy Hunt returns to Cambridge where he teaches biochemistry and cell biology at the university. He starts working again with his ancient colleagues from the Korner laboratory, Richard Jackson and Tony Hunter, who in the meanwhile have revealed the RNA strand used to start haemoglobin synthesis. After 3–4 years they discover at least two other chemicals acting as inhibitors.
In 1991, Timothy Hunt becomes principal scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) leading a laboratory working on the control of the cell cycle. Currently, he has closed his lab at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, but remains an Emeritus Group Leader.
Hunt works on the control of translation of mRNA and learns to use rabbit reticulocytes for studies of haemoglobin synthesis. Hunt is fascinated by the question of when the haem is inserted into globin to make haemoglobin, and whether ribosomes have to queue up under conditions where iron (and hence haem) is limiting. He listens also to Borsook's talk comparing protein synthesis in sea urchin eggs with protein synthesis in red cells - this talk will play a key role in his future.
Timothy Hunt attends Clare College with the intention of becoming a biochemist. He succeeds better in practical exams than in theory. During these years, all is tremendously exciting for him and his fellow students.
Timothy Hunt attends Magdalen College School where he discovers Chemistry with the help of his teacher, Colonel Simmons. The lessons of Zoology held by a young teacher called Terence Doherty also interest him considerably. In these years, he attends Extramural Lectures given by the University of Oxford and the Christmas lectures in the Oxford Museum. These talks make a notable impression on him.
After having attended, oddly, the Infants Department of the Oxford High School for Girls at the early age of 8, Timothy Hunt enters the Dragon School. Here, he enjoys weekly science lessons held by a young German called Gerd Sommerhoff. This teacher puts Hunt in contact with biology.
Timothy Hunt flies to New York where he spends his summer between a very hot dormitory in the Far East Bronx and very interesting laboratory's experiences.
After the PhD, Timothy Hunt returns to New York to work with Irving London. He collaborates with Nechama and her husband Edward. Together, they discover that tiny amounts of oxidized glutathione are extremely inhibitory to protein synthesis in reticulocytes, and with Ellie Ehrenfeld that even tinier amounts of double-stranded RNA kill protein synthesis. Hunt also discovers other interesting properties of cell-free protein synthesis in the reticulocyte lysate.
Timothy Hunt receives the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Leland H. Hartwell and Sir Paul Nurse "for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle."