​KARY MULLIS – INVENTOR OF PCR

Kary Mullis.

Born: December 28, 1944, Lenoir, North Carolina, United States
Spouse: Nancy Cosgrove Mullis

Education: University of California, Berkeley (1972), Georgia Institute of Technology (1966), Dreher High School

Awards: Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Japan Prize

Kary Banks Mullis, Nobel Prize winning chemist, was born on December 28, 1944, in Lenoir, North Carolina.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1966. He earned a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972 and lectured in biochemistry there until 1973. That year, Dr. Mullis became a postdoctoral fellow in pediatric cardiology at the University of Kansas Medical School, with emphasis in the areas of angiotensin and pulmonary vascular physiology. In 1977 he began two years of postdoctoral work in pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Mullis joined the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, California, as a DNA chemist in 1979. During his seven years there, he conducted research on oligonucleotide synthesis and invented the polymerase chain reaction.

In 1986, he was named director of molecular biology at Xytronyx, Inc. in San Diego, where his work was concentrated in DNA technology and photochemistry. In 1987 began consulting on nucleic acid chemistry for more than a dozen corporations, including Angenics, Cytometrics, Eastman Kodak, Abbott Labs, Milligen/Biosearch, and Specialty Laboratories.

Dr. Mullis received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993, for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).The process, which Dr. Mullis conceptualized in 1983, is hailed as one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century. A method of amplifying DNA, PCR multiplies a single, microscopic strand of the genetic material billions of times within hours.

 What is PCR??

PCR is used in molecular biology to make many copies of (amplify) small sections of DNA or a gene.Using PCR it is possible to generate thousands to millions of copies of a particular section of DNA from a very small amount of DNA.PCR is a common tool used in medical and biological research labs. It is used in the early stages of processing DNA for sequencing, for detecting the presence or absence of a gene to help identify pathogens during infection, and when generating forensic DNA profiles from tiny samples of DNA.

How PCR works?

PCR involves a process of heating and cooling called thermal cycling which is carried out by machine.

There are three main stages:

Denaturing – when the double-stranded template DNA is heated to separate it into two single strands.

Annealing – when the temperature is lowered to enable the DNA primers to attach to the template DNA.

Extending – when the temperature is raised and the new strand of DNA is made by the Taq polymerase enzyme.

These three stages are repeated 20-40 times, doubling the number of DNA copies each time.

A complete PCR reaction can be performed in a few hours, or even less than an hour with certain high-speed machines.

After PCR has been completed, a method called electrophoresis can be used to check the quantity and size of the DNA fragments produced.

The process has multiple applications in medicine, genetics, biotechnology, and forensics. PCR, because of its ability to extract DNA from fossils, is in reality the basis of a new scientific discipline, paleobiology.

Dr. Mullis has authored several major patents. His patented inventions include the PCR technology and UV-sensitive plastic that changes color in response to light. His most recent patent application covers a revolutionary approach to instantly mobilize the immune system to neutralize invading pathogens and toxins, leading to the formation of his latest venture, Altermune Technologies, of which he is the Chief Scientific Advisor.

Dr. Mullis was awarded the Japan Prize in 1993 for the PCR invention. It is one of international science’s most prestigious awards.
Draft by- Twinkal & Prajakta

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