Sydney Brenner was born in Germiston, South Africa, in 1927 and received bachelor degrees in Biochemistry, Medicine and Surgery and M.Sc. in cell genetics at Witwaterstrand in Joihannesburg, and Ph.D. at Oxford University, U.K. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Royal Cellege of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons in London.
He spent most of his career working with the Medical Research Council (MRC) and became Director of the MRC Molecular Genetics Laboratory in Cambridge, England, Honorary Professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University and Visiting Professor at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London. After his retirement in 1992 he moved to the USA where he founded and directed the Molecular Sciences Institute, a private research institute in Berkley, California.
Professor Brenner is a giant of molecular biology. His distinguished scientific achievements over the past 50 years were pivotal in the development of modern concepts of molecular genetics and biology. His early work includes pioneering research on the structural identity of complex bacteriophages, mechanisms of chemical mutagenesis, characterization of chain-termination triplets and demonstration of the colinearity between a gene and its protein. However, his most significant earlier achievement was the establishment in the 1960s of the existence of messenger RNA and the proof that new mRNA molecules programmed pre-existing ribosomes to make new proteins. With the advent of cloning and sequencing of DNA, Brenner turned his attention to the direct study of genes and genomes, and initiated important molecular research based on the analysis of muscle genes of multicellular organisms. Using the tiny nematode Caenorhaditis elegans as a novel experimental model organism, he was able to link genetic analysis to cell division, differentiation, organ development and programmed cell death.
After his second retirement in 2000, he took the offer of Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, Ca. He is also associated with the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology, the Singapore Biomedical Research Council, the Janelia Farm Research Campus and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2005, he was appointed President of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. He is also a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at the Scripps Research Institute. Professor Brenner presently lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.
Professor Brener’s legenardy achievements earned him the King Faisal International Prize for Science in 1992, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, jointly with two of his former students, in 2002 and the Lasker Award twice, the National Science and Technology Medal by A-STAR Singapore, in addition to numerous other prizes, medals, honorary doctorate degrees and Fellowships of major international academies and societies. A scientific biography of Sydney Brenner was recently written by Errol Friedberg (CSHL Press, 2010).
Dr. Sydney Brenner, has been awarded the prize for that, he made two fundamental discoveries that complete the work of Crick and Watson. He first of all established that the molecules carrying the hereditary message, called DNA, encode the information they contain in a cipher using four “letters” of the genetic “alphabet”. Each single piece of information is represented by a particular combination of three of these “letters”. This is what is referred to as the triplet codon. Dr. Brenner then discovered bow this information, stored in DNA, is duplicated, without prejudice to the original, and carried to the part of the cell where it is used to manufacture the proteins encoded.