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Fellows Directory

Sydney Brenner

Sydney Brenner

Professor Sydney Brenner CH FRS


Elected: 1965


Sydney Brenner was a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who made many seminal contributions to molecular biology. Joining the field at its inception in the 1950s, Sydney worked with notable contemporaries on studies of Escherichia coli and the viruses that attack this bacterium to reveal much about the structure and function of the genetic code and, in particular, RNA.

He proposed the existence of messenger RNA as an intermediary between DNA and protein. Sydney subsequently revealed that triplets of nucleotides within RNA encode the individual amino acids of a protein, as well as signals for stopping protein manufacture. Consequently, he showed that the order of such triplets directly determines the order of amino acids in a protein.

Sydney successfully established Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism, himself using the roundworm to study organ development and apoptosis. For these achievements, he earned the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Well known for providing insightful ideas to fellow scientists, Sydney has founded and led several research institutes and was instrumental in guiding Singapore’s investment in biomedical research.

Professor Sydney Brenner CH FRS died on 5 April 2019.


  • Copley Medal

    In recognition of his many contributions to molecular genetics and developmental biology, and his recent role in the Human Genome mapping project.

  • Croonian Medal and Lecture

    On 'The molecular genetics of muscle in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans'.

  • Dan David Prize

    In the field of life sciences.

  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of biology.

  • Kyoto Prize

    In the field of biotechnology and medical technology.

  • Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

    No citation available for this award.

  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

    Jointly with H. Robert Horvitz and John E. Sulston for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.

  • Royal Medals

    In recognition of his distinguished contributions to molecular biology concerning the nature of the genetic code and its expression during development.

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