Nobel Prize-winning biologist Sydney Brenner will deliver the annual Arthur Holly Compton Memorial Lecture for the Assembly Series at 4 p.m. Tues, Oct. 14. The lecture,”Humanity’s Genes,” is free and open to the public and will be held in Graham Chapel, located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University campus.
Brenner has made numerous contributions to the fields of genetics and biology. In 2002, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the nematode roundworm, C. elegans, which paved the way towards the first genetic mapping of a multicellular organism and was a significant factor in the development of the Human Genome Project. His achievements with C. elegans are now considered a research standard worldwide for developmental biology.
Born and raised in South Africa, Brenner was educated at Oxford and Cambridge universities in the 1950s. From 1979 to 1986, he served as director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University. He is now Distinguished Professor at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies in La Jolla, Ca. He also serves as President of the Molecular Sciences Institute in La Jolla and Berkeley, Ca., a private institute he founded in 1996 to advance interdisciplinary research in fields such as genomics, genetics and computational biology.
Brenner has been a part of many landmark scientific discoveries over the years. He was among the first to view Watson and Crick’s model for the DNA double-helix structure. Brenner and his colleagues discovered messenger RNA, or mRNA, which can be translated into proteins. Working with Crick, he also proposed that a single amino acid is coded by a triplet of RNA. His work in genetics and at the molecular level has led to major gains in understanding a range of diseases, including cancer, AIDS, strokes and neurodegenerative diseases.
Brenner’s lecture will discuss some of the questions raised by the completion of the Human Genome Project. He will talk about both the benefits and the fears raised by recent breakthroughs in genetic research, and his belief that the brain is mightier than the genome.
For more information, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page (http://wupa.wustl.edu/assembly).