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An early interest in botany and love for nature


Never knowing what happened to my father
Jan Klein Scientist
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We didn't know what happened to our father and my mother was... after the war... was writing letters to all the possible places to find out what happened and she didn't get any answers until one day a letter arrived. It was a letter that she wrote and it was sent back and on the envelope was a single word in Russian, and I was at that time already learning the azbuka, the Russian alphabet, so mother brought it for me to read it.  And I could read it and it said 'умер' which means died. So that was the only word we got of our father. We never found his grave or anything and we don't know how or under what circumstances he actually died.

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.

Duration: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008