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Frank Perkins


Helping people, not profitting
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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It's important to mention this because it will establish, hopefully, my mind set and the mind set of other people. I had no worry about this; it didn't mean much to me. I was doing what I thought was the right thing. And, in fact, I set up with Frank Perkins here in London a repository for WI-38 in which Frank housed several hundred ampoules of WI-38 that I brought here in a liquid nitrogen container on board aircraft, which is impossible today. The liquid nitrogen vessel in which I brought these cells to London, Moscow and other locations looks like a 500 pound bomb. It's made out of aluminium, double jacketed, shaped like a bomb, and weighs about 15 or 20 kilos maybe when it's full. And it wasn't easy getting that vessel through customs; we had all sorts of tricks for doing it, because to claim that you were importing into the UK living human cells would raise the eyebrows of customs inspectors, which we preferred to... not to see.

So, I will now return to the main theme, hopefully, having convinced listeners and viewers that the mind set was one of helping people, at least my mind set, and not profiting.

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: Frank Perkins

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012