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The influence of the press at the Asilomar conference 1975


Suggesting 'The Book of Man' at the Asilomar Conference 1975
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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At Asilomar, where I gave a talk — and again the recording of the talk exists there — I had in fact suggested something called the Book of Man. You have to realise that at that time we still did not know that genes contained introns. And what I'd thought was we would take all the genes and we would glue them down on a page of nitrocellulose and this would be the Book of Man and you could turn to page 48, line 23, word four, and there you'd have the gene for serum albumin written there. And so the concept that one could just get the genes by working with DNA was of course very much alive and of course being in Cambridge where Fred Sanger was sequencing DNA, realised that this is on the threshold of the new genetics. And the new genetics is then what I became extremely interested in.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 29 September 2010