Sydney Brenner on Participation at Cold Spring Harbor Symposia
  Sydney Brenner     Biography    
Recorded: 10 Jun 2002
The first symposium I attended, not officially, no, I came by in 1958, when George Streisinger was working in—George has worked with us, was it in ’59? ’59! George had worked with us in Cambridge from ’57 to ’59—he’d gone back to Cold Spring Harbor, he had a lab there—a very good old friend. And we came to visit him because we went to a meeting at Brookhaven. And I think this was a symposium on evolution. So he said,

“Let’s look into the symposium.” And I—and I maybe wrong with the dates, but I can remember it was a very small audience. And you know, people were just discussing evolution and so on, and when I compare that to the ’61 symposium which already dramatically changed things, you know, and then all the subsequent ones. And the fact that, you know, the red book gets fatter and fatter and fatter.

So it just becomes, you see—you know, most people—most scientists –I’ll say one thing: Most scientists don’t like to write symposia. But they never refuse, never, for Cold Spring Harbor, because it carries something which is, which is an important stand in that people want to have their papers. Whereas, I think for all the other symposia they say, “It’s just the organizers who want to have a publication.” But Cold Spring Harbor has been something that I think nobody refuses.

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.