BENZER, SEYMOUR (1921– ), U.S. neuroscientist. Born in New York, Benzer graduated from Brooklyn College (1942) and received his Ph.D. from Purdue University, Indiana (1947), in physics where he progressed to distinguished professor (1945–67). During this period he collaborated with outstanding contemporary scientists, including M. Delbrueck (California Institute of Technology), F. Jacob and J. Monod (Pasteur Institute), and F.H. Crick and S. Brenner (Cambridge, U.K.). In 1967 he joined California Institute of Technology, first as professor and latterly as emeritus professor. Benzer moved from physics to molecular genetics followed by neuroscience. His initial discoveries concerned the molecular organization of genes, which he exploited to analyze the development of the nervous system and genetically controlled behavior in fruit flies (drosophila). This research has potential implications for understanding degenerative diseases of the nervous system in man and human behavior. His recent research concerned the genetic control of aging, notably muscle strength. His many honors included the Gairdner Award (1964), the Lasker Award (1971), the Harvey Prize of the Haifa Technion (1977), the Wolf Prize (1991), and the Neurosciences Award of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and foreign member of the Royal Society of London.
[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]