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My first chemistry kit

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Childhood in Pennsylvania
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1928 and raised, as you might expect from that date, as a depression child, during which time we were economically deprived, as were most people at that time. And that had a longstanding impact on my life, I’m sure, in respect to economising, even in areas when there was plenty, although they were very rare in my life. So we lived in what’s called a row house, which means one house after another with a common wall, and that was a lower middle class type of housing. My father was a dental mechanic, that is, he designed the prosthetic devices that people have in their mouths to replace lost teeth. It’s a very exacting technique and he grew to be quite expert, one of the, if not the leading expert in that kind of very critical designing in the field of the area. So his income, despite that fact as it grew over the years, was rather modest.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Depression

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012