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A fish in a tank of sharks


Is science all about helping people?
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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In the late '60s I began... began to be concerned about several things. The evolution of my thinking, from that of a fresh post-doc in the early '60s and late '50s, that science was all about helping people, began to change slowly over time as I realised that the real motivations are not only that. I'm sure that, at least when I entered the field of biology professionally, many people like me felt as I did, but as time went by my thinking began to change from that in which serving humanity was the purpose, to observe the behaviour of other scientists who were now beginning to profit financially from their work, especially in other fields like electronics and engineering. And the biologists were the last to worry about keeping their skirts clean, in respect to financial profitability.

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: science, biology, altruism, financial profit

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012