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'Shape up the disqualification procedures to deny Hayflick his grant'


Fighting legal battles on three fronts
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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In the meantime, the behavior of the dean of the medical school and other people including the president of the university was such that I decided to resign from the university. Not because I felt any guilt at all, but having been for so many years in an academic setting, I knew that if I stayed at Stanford, and even if I won my case outright, there would still be a cloud over my head. If you're not in academic atmosphere, this would be difficult to understand. And I decided it would be to my advantage to resign. Some people disagreed with that decision, but I would not change it, even to this day. And so I did resign, because it became clear to me that I would now have to be spending full time protecting myself.

In addition to the lawsuit, the lawyer for the dean of the medical school, a man by the name of John Schwartz, turned my case over to the local district attorney of Santa Clara County as a police action, believing that they were involved with theft. So I now had not only Stanford to deal with and the federal government to deal with, I had the attorney... I had the prosecutor of the local county, which I think is clear meant that I was now spending full time fighting on three... three fronts.

Fortunately, the Santa Clara County issue was resolved rather quickly because my attorney – the lead attorney who took the part of the case involving the privacy issue – was very well connected locally, of course, and he found another attorney to defend me in respect of the Santa Clara County issue. And that attorney was very clever. He said, 'We're not going to do anything, we're going to cool it – as he said – and wait for the prosecutor to act, see whether he acts.' It turned out the prosecutor never acted, I don't know why, but perhaps he was intelligent enough to see that this was not a criminal act, I don't know, so that issue ended within three or four months.

But the next... but the issue involving the title to WI-38 and the violation of the Privacy Act of 1974 remained as a major issue and the litigation continued for seven years.

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: Stanford, Santa Clara County, John Schwartz

Duration: 3 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2013

Date story went live: 14 June 2013