The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002
Born: 13 January 1927, Germiston, South Africa
Died: 5 April 2019, Singapore
Affiliation at the time of the award: The Molecular Sciences Institute, Berkeley, CA, USA
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'”
Prize share: 1/3
At the beginning of an organism's life, the number of cells it contains increases rapidly. New cells are formed throughout its lifetime, but cells also die in order to maintain a balance in the number of cells in existence. This process is regulated by genes and is called programmed cell death. Groundbreaking in the understanding of this phenomenon were studies on the development of the small roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, conducted by Sydney Brenner in the mid-1970s. Brenner's work made it possible to link genetic analysis to cell division and organ formation.