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Jan and Klein - my name has always caused confusion

RELATED STORIES

Birth in Czechoslovakia
Jan Klein Scientist
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Perhaps I better start by introducing myself. I am... my name is Jan Klein and as you have noticed from my accent, although I am a citizen of this country, I have not been born here... I was not born here, and in fact I was born in what was then Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia at that time was a lizard shaped country on the map where the head of the lizard was Bohemia, the middle part was Silesia and Moravia and the tail part, trunk and tail was Slovakia. And I was born in Silesia, which was once a very large country and always actually belonged to the Czech kingdom but then the Prussians took part of it and later it became part of Poland. So I was born in Silesia on the border of Poland and not far from there was Germany. The ethnic composition was very mixed; there were some Polish people but mostly it was Czechs and German-speaking immigrants. The immigrants came to the country, most of them, very long time ago but they settled down there and they stayed. Some of the villages there were totally Czech like ours and others were mixed and some were completely German speaking. So this is the part of the country where I was born.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Silesia, Moravia, Slovakia, Czechs, Germans

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008