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Is science all about helping people?


My involvement in worldwide vaccine production
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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My recollection is that this, as it later turned out, the awarding of this contract occurred, I believe, a month or two before I decided to develop WI-38, which caused a bit of a problem, because as events later developed one might ask the question whether WI-38 was developed under that contract? The answer is, in my opinion, no. Others have different opinions. In any case, I'll return to that issue later.

So we found ourselves now during a period, in the middle and late '60s, when great activity was going on worldwide in vaccine production, and I recall going to several meetings in Washington, the Pan American Health Organisation, and WHO meetings. The World Health Organization sponsored a trip that they wanted me to make to Czechoslovakia, Russia, Moscow, Leningrad, and especially to Moscow, where I spent two months teaching the Russian researchers how to prepare vaccines in WI-38. So this fermentation activity was going on. There were, of course, many people from industrial laboratories who were invited to my laboratory to learn the technique on-site. These are just examples of the kinds of activities I was involved with in the mid to later 60s. I've not said anything yet, but of course I must say something about, or as much about this, subsequently, and that is the impact that this observation had on the field of gerontology, or ageing. I have not forgotten that, obviously, but I will return to it subsequently.

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: Moscow

Duration: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012