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A difficult graduate year


No stranger to the Wistar Institute
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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My first knowledge of the Wistar Institute occurred with my visits to Dolby's, that I earlier explained, had their facility right next to Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania campus, but although I know of its existence, I didn't enter that institute until I learned during my high school days, after it had been whispered around that there was something of interest there, that I decided to make a visit. And what was of interest that had been whispered among the high school kids, was that a collection of human embryonic anomalies, disfigured human embryos, in large jars in formalin probably, that represented very bizarre appearances. Several of the embryos were Cyclops; several had two heads, multiple extremities, multiple fingers, an entire collection of these kinds of bizarre human embryonic pathologies. And of course that was fascinating for young kids in their late teens. And I had gone there several times to see these, prior to my experiences as a student at Pen. And so I knew about that collection and several other interesting anatomical exhibits at the Wistar Institute museum on the first floor. So having that as a background, and now finding myself there as a student, was rather interesting, to say nothing of the laboratory that I had in the animal colony where my thesis was to look at the etiology of middle ear infections in the Wistar rats.

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: The Wistar Institute

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012