James Wyngaarden on Sydney Brenner
  James Wyngaarden     Biography    
Recorded: 18 Aug 2003

Yes, Sydney Brenner. I wouldn’t say I know him well on a personal level. I’ve been at multiple meetings where he has been in attendance. I’ve chatted with him about scientific issues from time to time. I’ve heard him speak many times. I love to hear him speak. He’s got the kind of diction and sentence construction and use of words that I admire. He gave a major address on the C. elegans to one of the panels that I was part of, this Markey Trust Foundation. Markey Trust had supported and there is an annual meeting of all Markey scholars. He was the speaker of that. I’ve had dinner with him here in groups. I did visit and have dinner with him in a group again in London one time. So it’s that kind of contact. It’s not highly personal. But he’s been—I was really pleased to see him win the [Nobel] prize for the elegans work because a lot of us felt that he was right on the edge time and again over this whole sequence that he probably should have been included long before, but it worked out well. He lived long enough to be recognized.

James B. Wyngaarden is a medical doctor, biochemist and medical science advisor. He served as director of the National Institutes of Health, associate director for Life Sciences in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and as director of the Human Genome Organization. Wyngaarden is currently part of the Washington Advisory Group, LLC and director of four biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies. Wyngaarden is also co-author of the textbook The Metabolic Basis of Inherited Disease.

He researches the regulation of purine biosynthesis, the production of uric acid and he helped initiate the use of allopurinol, a drug developed as an anticancer agent and now used as a treatment for gout. While serving as director of the National Institutes of Heath, he enlisted the help of Dr. Watson in 1988 to begin the Human Genome Project. Jim obliged and joined the NIH as the associate director for Human Genome Research, while still acting as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.