Sydney Brenner on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: A Center for Science
  Sydney Brenner     Biography    
Recorded: 10 Jun 2002

Yeah, well you see, Cold Spring Harbor has the unique thing that essentially—and of course the season gets longer and longer. But essentially somewhere it used to be from the middle—from May, it’s now April, maybe even March, right through the summer, right through till August. A huge number of scientists make their way through it.

And because the all-year-round activities have flourished and expanded, it becomes—it just becomes the place where many scientists come, there’s a lot of exchange of information. And I think, well, “Mecca” I wouldn’t say because I think that “Mecca” is not the appropriate. But it certainly is the place—and it’s the traditional informality of the place that I think makes many scientists feel comfortable. Plus, of course, from the very early days the courses that they have run have generated the new sciences. The phage course helped very much to generate all the people who went into molecular biology. There was courses on microbial genetics, which did all of this, and of course in more recent years, more sophisticated courses in neurobiology and so on.

You see, Woods Hole also had that tradition, but it never quite—and had it in certain aspects, but I think Cold Spring Harbor outran it. You know, in its—in the complexity of the activities.

Sydney Brenner is a pioneer in the field of molecular biology. He was born in South Africa in 1927 and received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1954. From 1979 to 1986 he served as Director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Biology and from 1986 to 1991, as the Director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory Molecular Genetics Unit, both in Cambridge, England.

Since 1996 he has been the President and Director of Science at the Molecular Sciences Institute in La Jolla and Berkeley. Brenner was honored as a Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla in 2000.

In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Dr. John Sulston and Dr. Robert Horvitz “for their discoveries concerning ‘genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’” studying the organism C. elegans.