Brenner, born 1927,
La Jolla, CA, USA.
realized, in the early 1960s, that the
nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was an ideal
model organism to study cell differentiation and
organ development. This small worm has a short
generation time and is transparent, which made it
possible to follow cell division directly under the
microscope. In 1974, Brenner demonstrated that
specific gene mutations could be induced in the
genome of C. elegans by the chemical
compound EMS (ethyl methane sulphonate). Different
mutations were linked to specific genes and to
specific effects on organ development. Brenner´s
discoveries, carried out in Cambridge, UK, laid the
foundation for this year´s Nobel Prize.