Nobel-winning chemist to speak at KSU

By The Mercury

The chemist whose invention is has led to identifying long-buried royalty, analyzing viruses and rescuing people wrongly sentenced to prison will speak at K-State on Wednesday.

Kary Mullis, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, will speak about the origins of a monumental 20th century scientific discovery: the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

The lecture, titled “The Unusual Origins of PCR,” is at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union.

Refreshments will be served at 2:30 p.m.

The lecture is part of the Provost’s Lecture on Excellence in Scholarship and the Hageman Lecture in Agricultural Biochemistry.

“Dr. Mullis is a renowned, revered figure in biochemistry, molecular biology, human and animal medicine and many, many other scientific disciplines as a result of his discovery and implementation of the polymerase chain reaction,” said Phillip Klebba, head and professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics.

Mullis conceptualized the polymerase chain reaction in 1983 while developing analytical tools for DNA.

He reduced the idea to practice and obtained patents for it. He received the Nobel Prize a decade later.

The polymerase chain reaction is a biochemical process that allows the repeated synthesis of DNA in a test-tube.

It has revolutionized basic research on the molecular level and has multiple applications in medicine, genetics, biotechnology and forensics.

After completing his doctoral degree in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, Mullis tried his hand at writing fiction and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kansas Medical School in pediatric cardiology.

He also did pharmaceutical research at the University of California, San Francisco before joining Cetus in 1979.

Mullis served as a consultant to numerous research groups in many biotech companies. Most recently he worked on the challenging project of enhancing human immunity to newly arising pathogens.

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