American Philosophical Society
Member History

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2. Biological Sciences[X]
207. Genetics[X]
1Name:  Dr. Sydney Brenner
 Institution:  The Salk Institute
 Year Elected:  1979
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  207. Genetics
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1927
 Death Date:  April 5, 2019
Sydney Brenner was born in South Africa and studied medicine and science at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Working in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, he received his D.Phil. degree from Oxford University in 1952. After briefly returning to South Africa, Dr. Brenner joined the Medical Research Council's Unit in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. He became the director of its successor, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in 1979. In 1987 he became director of the MRC's Unit of Molecular Genetics, retiring in 1992. His early research was in molecular genetics. Working with bacterophages and bacteria, he discovered messenger RNA (working with Jacob and Meselson) and, with Crick, showed that the code was composed of triplets. In the 1960s, he changed the direction of his work and began research on C. elegans, establishing it as a powerful experimental system for the analysis of complex biological processes. Believing that the techniques of cloning and sequencing would open up new ways of approaching genetics, he turned his attention to vertebrate genomics and established the pufferfish genome as a valuable tool in genome analysis. He served as the founder and president of the Molecular Sciences Institute, a private research institute in Berkeley, CA. His achievements were recognized with the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award (1971), both the Royal Medal (1974) and the Copley Medal (1991) from the Royal Society of London, and the Kyoto Prize (1990), to name just four of more than twenty such honors. In 1987 he was named a Companion of Honour. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. He was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1979. Sydney Brenner died April 5, 2019 in Singapore at the age of 92.
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