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What motivates scientists


Scientists seek recognition and reward
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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Even today, I am struggling with someone who wrote the obituary for Bob Chanock who unfortunately died about a year ago. The obituary I discovered was printed in the newsletter of the International Organisation of Mycoplasmology, so it goes out to every mycoplasmologist in the world who's a member and most of them are. It was also printed in several medical journals about a year ago and it's hard to believe – I won't go into the details – but I'm having... and in the obituary it was stated outright that Bob Chanock discovered mycoplasma pnuemoniae. In fact, a couple of years after the paper was written, Bob was given several awards for this discovery, many of them were significant cash prizes. Not that I care about the cash prizes so much, but I was a young kid at the time. I was in my early 30s. I didn't appreciate what I now appreciate, of course, and that is the recognition that scientists seek for their observations. I thought I was doing something to help humanity and that belief held forth for a couple more years into my cell culture research that I greatly regret. I thought the reward that you get was helping humanity, not being rewarded for some financial reason, or for recognition. It's hard to believe in today's scientific environment.

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: International Organization of Mycoplasmology, Robert Chanick

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012