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Nobel Laureate and Pioneer in Molecular Biology, Sydney Brenner, MSc, MBBCh, DPhil, Dies at 92


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Sydney Brenner, MSc, MBBCh, DPhil. Photo courtesy of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore.

Sydney Brenner, MSc, MBBCh, DPhil. Photo courtesy of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore.

Sydney Brenner, MSc, MBBCh, DPhil, died on April 6, 2019, at age 92, according to The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, where Dr. Brenner had served as a Senior Fellow. Dr. Brenner was conferred the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for his pioneering work in the field of molecular biology. For over 6 decades, he had shaped modern biology and understanding of the genetic code.

Pioneer in Molecular Biology

Dr. Sydney Brenner was a renowned pioneer in molecular biology. His many achievements included deciphering how the triplet codon works, the discovery of messenger RNA, and the use of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system for human disease. Dr. Brenner’s dedication and commitment to Singapore have also contributed to policies and initiatives that have left an indelible mark on the nation’s research and development journey.

Since his first visit in 1983, Dr. Brenner had played a key role in building the biomedical sciences in Singapore. He challenged the nation to think ahead for the future, which led to the establishment of Singapore’s first major research institute for science, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1985.

Over the past 35 years, Dr. Brenner guided Singapore on its journey into research and development, including his recent capacity as Scientific Advisor to former Chairman A*STAR Lim Chuan Poh. For his contributions, Dr. Brenner received many accolades, including the Distinguished Friends of Singapore in 2000, Honorary Citizen in 2003, and the National Science and Technology Medal in 2006.

A*STAR Chairman, Chan Lai Fung, said: “A giant in the field of molecular biology, Sydney played a key role in shaping Singapore’s research and development landscape from its early years. His deep contributions in biomedical sciences have helped put Singapore on the global map. Today, Singapore is an emerging biomedical hub. Sydney will be remembered by the scientific community and beyond.”

A Legacy of Scientists and Engineers

Dr. Brenner had a strong passion in ensuring that young people receive a good education in science. Through his support, the A*STAR Graduate Academy was established to help Singapore build its own pipeline of young scientists and engineers, many of whom now contribute in research institutes, universities, polytechnics, hospitals, and local companies.

This past November, a book entitled 10-on-10: The Chronicles of Evolution was launched as a tribute to Dr. Brenner’s extraordinary vision and legacy. The book was written by 24 renowned scientists and is a compilation of a series of lectures on evolution, which was the brainchild of Dr. Brenner. 


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