The South African biologist Sydney Brenner (January 13, 1927 – April 5, 2019), considered one of the most brilliant scientists of the twentieth century and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002, shared with Bob Horvitz and John Sulston, has died this Friday at the age of 92 .
Brenner received the highest scientific award for his work on the genetic regulation of cell death and development, but could have received it for his contributions to the knowledge of the genetic code or the RNA menajero. His door to the investigation was the tiny worm Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode with which he investigated inThe mechanisms that make a single cell the origin of the rest to form different tissues and organs.
The Caenorhabditis elegans has 300 neurons in its small network of only 959 cells, a feature that allowed him to investigate the nervous system and open dozens of research paths.
Brenner, of Jewish parents from Eastern Europe who emigrated to South Africa, says in his autobiography that he learned to read in the library of his hometown (Germiston) and there discovered "the source of knowledge." He graduated in biochemistry and studied medicine, physics, chemistry, botany and zoology. "My uncle Harry gave me a microscope that allowed me to continue my personal exploration of the living world."
In November 1952 he was told that two Cambridge scientists were going to solve the structure of DNA. The following month of April he went to meet them. They were Francis Crick and Jim Watson, who marked the scientific life of Brenner. "I realized that it was the key to understanding the unsolved problems of biology. It was the birth of molecular biology, "he wrote.
Brenner has died leaving behind a broad legacy of research and detracting from the prizes. "I think a scientist should be judged by the quality of the people he has helped and not by awards and other honors," he said.