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Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner passes away

Date: 08 April 2019 Tags: Obituaries

Nobel laureate and genetics expert Sydney Brenner passed away. He was 92. He was South African born biologist who earned PhD from Oxford University. He later became Singapore’s first honorary citizen. He was founding member of European Molecular Biology Organization, EMBO in Heidelberg, Germany.

Scientific Contributions

  • He was known for his most notable achievement of turning Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) nematode worm into model system for human-disease research in 1960s and 1970s For this, he shared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2002 with colleague biologists John Sulston and Robert Horvitz.
  • He had chosen worm because it was more complex than other well-understood organisms (ex-bacteria) but simple enough to study in depth. C. elegans are still widely used in biology today.
  • His findings had shed light that how specific genes regulate organ growth and programmed cell death. It also had shed new light on development of diseases like Aids, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and strokes.
  • With Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) and others, he had worked out that genetic code of DNA is made up of series of triplets of nucleotides called codons, which encode amino acids that make up a particular protein.
  • He also had co-discovered messenger RNA (the molecule that directs the cell’s production of amino acids). These intermediary molecules convey cell’s genetic code, which is written in DNA, to cellular machinery that translates messenger RNA into protein.