The prize to these three investigators was awarded for their work on the nematode (roundworm), Caenorhabditis elegans. A simple animal with very few cells, it has many of the functions found in higher organisms. It moves, it eats, it senses its environment, it ages. Study of these processes in the worm has revealed genes that control the same processes in humans.
Dr. Brenner articulated the case for development of C. elegans as a desirable object of study (or "model system") in 1963. By turning the worm into a workable experimental animal, and by evangelizing about the possible discoveries that researchers working on it might make, Sydney attracted and helped guide the formation of dozens of younger researchers who developed the field. Sulston and Horvitz were among the earliest and most accomplished of these researchers.
Sydney's contributions to science now span almost five decades. The work on worms, which the prize honors, is only one of his important achievements.
Additional Contributions to Biology
Beginning in the 1950s, Sydney contributed to the development of molecular biology, in particular with seminal contributions to the elucidation of the genetic code and the identification of mRNA. He also made great contributions to the understanding of antibody diversity. During the 1980s and 1990s, he was one of the people most responsible for the genome sequencing projects and the information that they produced.
It was in part the success of these sequencing projects, together with the molecular biological enterprise that he had helped to launch, that led him
Contact: Lauren Ha
Molecular Sciences Institute