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The early days of cytogenetics


'The golden era of virology'
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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I started to do what I was hired to do, namely start to grow the kinds of cell cultures that people in the Institute wanted, and to also take charge of my ancillary assignment which was to manage the media production facilities, because most of the people in the building, not all, but most were working in virology, and by this time, this renaissance of cell culture had exploded and all... this was actually what I have called frequently the 'golden era of virology', because virologists discovered that because, obviously viruses required... require living cells to replicate, and replication is vital to most studies of viruses, not all, they needed to learn how to do cell culture. And because I was hired as an expert in the area, I played some role in education, but mostly in providing the cell cultures themselves, in great quantity sometimes, and also managing the media production facility. Of course there were several technicians who actually did that kind of work.

So as... this was of course not a very stimulating job because it was after a couple of months, rather routine, and I found myself wanting to do some research. At that time Hilary and... Hilary and I had agreed that I could do some research, I could pick a project and do what I wanted if I paid attention to my... the major reason for being hired, and I agreed to this because it gave me an opportunity to do research under really good circumstances and without having to look for funding. At that time Hilary had an umbrella grant from the National Institutes of Health. It provided a sum of money that covered the kinds of things that I was doing, namely core facilities, that is facilities and activities and reagents that the whole institute used, and that... those were the funds that supported my activities, not the research, it's critical to say that as I'll make clear later.

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: Hilary Koprowski

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012