Sydney Brenner, PhD


Dr Brenner is currently a Distinguished Professor of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, USA. Dr Brenner received degrees in Medicine and Science from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and a D. Phil. in Chemistry from Oxford University, England in 1954. The founding father of molecular genetics, Dr Brenner is known for his substantial contributions to the field, including the identification of mRNA (with Francois Jacob and Matthew Meselson), the demonstration that the genetic code consists of triplets (with Francis Crick), and the development of the nematode C. elegans as a model research organism.

Dr Brenner was a member of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England from 1956 to 1986 and served as its Director from 1977 to 1986. He was Director of the MRC Unit of Molecular Genetics from 1986 to 1992, and was appointed Professor of Genetic Medicine in the University of Cambridge in 1988. He was a visiting Scientist at the Scripps Research Institute from 1990 to 1995 and was the founder and Director of the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California from 1996 to 2001.

Dr Brenner has received many awards and honours and is a member of several national academies of science. These include the Companion of Honour, two Albert Lasker awards, one for his work in molecular genetics in 1971 and the Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science in 2000, and the Kyoto Prize in 1990. Most recently, Dr Brenner, H. Robert Horvitz and John E. Sulston were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002 for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.

In Singapore, Dr Brenner was a founding member of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) Scientific Board and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board from 1987 to 1997. In 2000, he received the National Day Award (Public Service Star) for putting Singapore on the world map of biomedical research capability.

In 2003, Dr Brenner was named an Honorary Citizen of Singapore for his invaluable contributions to the development of Singapore as an international biomedical research hub. In 2004, he was awarded the Scientist of the Year by the ARCS Foundation, Inc., San Diego, CA