- BRENNER, SYDNEY
- BRENNER, SYDNEY (1927– ), British scientist and Nobel laureate. Brenner was born in Germiston, South Africa, and studied medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, which incorporated a medical B.Sc. course and stimulated his interest in research. He published his first paper at age 18 and obtained an M.Sc. in cytogenetics in 1947 before becoming an M.D. in 1951. He received his Ph.D. in bacterial viruses from Oxford University in 1954, where his contacts with Francis Crick and Jim Watson determined the direction of his research interests, further stimulated by a visit to the U.S. on a Carnegie Corporation Traveling Fellowship. After a brief return to South Africa he joined the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in 1956, of which he was director in 1979–86. He directed the molecular genetics unit in 1986–91. In 1996 he was appointed president and director of science at the Molecular Sciences Institute, La Jolla, California, and in 2000 distinguished research professor at the Salk Institute, La Jolla. He used the small worm (nematode) Caenorhabditis elegans and later the Japanese pufferfish Fugu to study the genetic control of nervous system development. He and his colleagues correlated gene mutations with developmental abnormalities initially by anatomical and later by gene-cloning techniques. These studies helped establish the important principle that the origin of human diseases can be investigated by detecting mutant genes and the abnormal proteins these genes encode. They foreshadowed the medical benefits anticipated from mapping the human genome. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2002 (jointly with Robert Horwitz and John Sulston). His honors include FRS (1965), Lasker awards (1971 and 2000), Gairdner awards (1978 and 1991), and the Harvey Prize of the Israel Technion (1987). (Michael Denman (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.