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My first contact with virology


Opposition to artificial insemination
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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Farris also learned how to determine the viability of sperm under the microscope by various techniques, so he was quite a character. He was a very short man with a very strong personality, a kind of Napoleonic gentleman. That of course was another source of interest to me because of the biology involved, but he suffered terribly, because ultimately some enterprising newspaper reporters... reported this facility in negative terms, and threatened to close it down, because the people who were actually doing the insertion of sperm into the women who wished to be impregnated, were using... the people who were doing this were men who were using instruments of course to do this, and they were not physicians. And so the medical society finally decided to insist that a physician do that part... part of the procedure which they did do.

Subsequently, another impasse occurred, and I remember this pretty distinctly, the catholic leadership in Philadelphia opposed this, for reasons that escape me at the moment, they opposed it violently. It was reported in the newspapers and Farris's operation had to be closed down, which was one of my first exposures, I guess, to ethical considerations in biology, and whether that was the right thing or the wrong thing to do.

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: Edmund Farris

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012