Seymour Benzer

Seymour Benzer
Life Science
Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science
California Institute of Technology | Pasadena, California
For his pioneering discoveries that both founded and greatly advanced the field of neurogenetics, thereby transforming our understanding of the brain.

2004 Bower Science Theme: The Brain

Seymour Benzer began his career in science as a solid-state physicist, switching to biology in 1949. In the early 1960's, after having made several major contributions to the understanding of gene structure and the genetic code, he switched fields again and pioneered an entirely new era in neurogenetics. He has developed amazing insights into the nature of human behavior and brain disease by studying the fruit fly. Dr. Benzer's achievements have greatly influenced research in developmental biology, genetics, ethology, and neurobiology, as well as provided profound insights into human diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's—even Alzheimer's.

Dr. Benzer received his B.S. in physics from Brooklyn College in 1942, and his Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University in 1947. From 1945 until 1967 he was on the faculty of Purdue University before joining the California Institute of Technology where, today, he enjoys "active" emeritus status.

He has won countless awards including the National Medal of Science, International Prize for Biology (Japan), the Wolf Prize for Medicine (Israel), and the Lasker Award. Dr. Benzer is a member and/or fellow in numerous national and international societies, among them: The National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Royal Society.

Information as of April 2004