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Isolating mycoplasma free in nature


The whale skeleton outside my lab
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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When I first went over to the Wistar Institute as a student, and started my... actually by this time I turned my Master dissertation into pursuit of a PhD, and so chose this bigger project of the etiology of middle ear infection in the Wistar Institute rat colony. The institute, as I mentioned, was a three story building. The first floor was almost completely filled with laboratories, but the second floor was totally empty, and I had my pick of an entire floor of labs. These labs looked like laboratories that... and they were laboratories of course, they were built in the late 19th century, with antique Bunsen burners available, wrought iron filigree in the lab, nothing like you would see today.

That was rather interesting and... but the facilities were adequate for what I wanted to do. The centre of the Wistar Institute at that time was hollow from the roof to the floor as a kind of appealing architectural feature for the interior of the building, and in that open space, four sides of which consisted of laboratories, in that huge open space, there was suspended a huge whale skeleton, it was enormous, and that also fascinated people who came in. I mention that only because it stood outside of my laboratory, and so I have a vivid memory of the whale skeleton sitting outside of my PhD dissertation laboratory on the second floor of the Wistar Institute, including in the little lab I had in the animal colony.

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, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012