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Accelerated early schooling
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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My father had a customer – a lady called Mrs McCartney – and they came into the shop – I must have been about four and a half – and she found me reading, and she said to my father that I should be sent to kindergarten and my father said that he couldn't afford it, but she said she would take me into this kindergarten. This kindergarten was run as part of the Presbyterian Church, in Germiston, and so I started going to kindergarten when I was five years old, and I did the first three years of… I was... very rapidly started… moved into the standard school curriculum, and so I did the first three years of what would be grade school in one year. So I did grade I, grade II and standard I, as they were called in South Africa, in one year, and then I went to the state school, the Germiston Junior School, and so I started at the age of six in standard II. So I was very far in advance of my age.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Tags: Germiston

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008