President of the Royal Society comments on death of Sydney Brenner FRS

05 April 2019

Paying tribute to Sydney Brenner FRS, the President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, says: 

“Sydney was one of the greatest biologists of the last century. His work helped to lay down the foundations of modern molecular biology as well as our understanding of the development of organisms. Sydney was known for his deep insights, his elegant experiments and his incisive wit.

"Sydney was an early achiever, publishing his first research paper, on the physiology of cells, at the age of 18. He played a pioneering role in the foundations of molecular biology. Among his discoveries were the nature of the genetic code, the discovery that genetic information in DNA is first copied into an intermediary molecule, messenger RNA, and the idea that ribosomes are general code readers that translate all messenger RNAs into protein. Later, he developed the use of a transparent soil worm, the nematode C. elegans, to study how an entire organism can develop from a single cell. This work and the study of C. elegans transformed our study of animal development and physiology, including behaviour, and resulted in his Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002.”