April 5, 2019

Sydney Brenner
Credit: Science Photo Library

Sydney Brenner, 2002 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, was an instructor in the MBL Physiology course from 1967-1970 and a MBL Whitman Center researcher  (1967-1970, 1988). He passed away on April 5, 2019. Among his many contributions to biology, Brenner led a team that described the first complete wiring diagram, or “connectome,” of an organism, the nematode C. elegans.

Below is an obituary from The Guardian.

When James Watson and Francis Crick first completed their model of the structure of DNA in April 1953, a group of Oxford scientists drove to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge to see it. Among them was Sydney Brenner, a short, heavy-browed South African doctoral student in chemistry. The visit marked a watershed in his scientific life. “I just knew that this was the beginning of molecular biology,” he wrote later. “This was it … the curtain had been lifted and everything was now clear as to what to do.”

Brenner, who has died aged 92, went on to be a driving force in the molecular biology revolution of the late 20th century. His self-chosen mission to explore the genetics, development and behaviour of a tiny nematode worm led to critical insights into human disease. In 2002 that work brought him a share in the Nobel prize for physiology that many felt was long overdue. Read more …