WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) _ Two genetic scientists credited with major roles in establishing the field of molecular biology will receive Brandeis University's Rosenstiel Medallion for 1986, the university announced Sunday.

Sydney Brenner, director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory in Cambridge, England, and Seymour Benzer, the James Griffin Boswell professor of neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, will be presented the prizes April 3.

A $10,000 prize accompanies the award, sponsored annually since 1972 by Brandeis' Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center.

The award is given in recognition of contributions fundamental to the development of biomedical research. Five previous winners later won Nobel Prizes.

A jury of prominent scientists cited Brenner and Benzer for fundamental contributions to understanding the gene and extending the knowledge to complex problems of behavior and functions of the nervous system, according to Harlyn O. Halvorson, director of the Rosenstiel Center.

Benzer's studies on the fruit fly and Brenner's on the worm led to the establishment of the field of behavioral genetics, or neurogenetics, Brandeis said.

The field investigates the development of the nervous system and higher brain functions, including learning, memory and biological rhythms, through the study of genes.

In particular, Brenner, 59, is being honored for contributions in solving the genetic code and for work in founding the field of molecular biology.

Molecular biology studies biological systems through the interaction of molecules, especially those that carry information, such as DNA, which contains hereditary information in genes that governs development.

Benzer, 64, is being recognized for work that helped determine the nature of the gene and for studies that led to molecular analyses of gene structures and functions in relation to their control of the development of the nervous system.