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Links between the Human Genome project and Caenorhabditis elegans


Resigning as director and renewing my interest in the nervous system
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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I had become interested in the nervous system again, in which I thought the most interesting thing to do would be to use the new technology to start to find out what the genes were doing in brains like our own or... the organism I chose was chickens simply because they were experimentally approachable. And I did start some work with this, and I had the ideas of trying to set up some molecular neurobiology at the time. And those didn't mature for various reasons. And I then decided that when I was approaching my 60th birthday - the MRC [Medical research Council] had only appointed me director till 60 - so at 58 they asked me do you wish to continue? And I said: 'No, I don't wish to continue as director, because I want to get out, back to do science'. And I managed to get out a year later, 1986, and I started another unit. And I decided... already I had decided that I would be interested and... and work in the new genetics.

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



Tags: Medical research Council

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 29 September 2010