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Kary Banks Mullis, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, was born on Dec. 28, 1944, in Lenoir, NC. Dr. Kary Mullis received his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Georgia Tech and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from U.C. Berkeley.
In 1983, 10 years after receiving his doctorate, Dr. Kary Mullis sent Nature a paper about a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that essentially amplifies DNA, enabling scientists to make millions of copies of a DNA molecule in an incredibly short time. Nature rejected it. Then Science rejected it. Despite these rejections, Dr. Mullis received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993 for this PCR technique. The process was hailed as "one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century."
From the moment he conceived of PCR - gliding along the highway through the mountains of Northern California - Dr. Mullis knew the epic implications. He describes his revelation in his autobiography, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. The process has multiple applications in medicine, genetics, biotechnology and forensics and is valuable in diagnosing genetic diseases by looking into a person's genes. It can find infectious diseases by detecting the genes of pathogens that were difficult or impossible to culture.
PCR, which was the theoretical basis for the novel and motion picture Jurassic Park because of its ability to extract DNA from fossils, is in reality the basis of a new scientific discipline called Paleobiology.
Dr. Kary Mullis has authored several major patents; his patented inventions include the PCR technology and UV-sensitive plastic that changes color in response to light. In 1993, Dr. Mullis was awarded the Japan Prize for the PCR invention. The Japan Prize is one of international science's most prestigious awards. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1998.
Dr. Kary Mullis works at Burstein Technologies in Irvine, California, where he is vice president and director of molecular biology. Burstein Technologies is developing a direct bridge between diagnostics and electronics based on optical disc technology.
Dr. Mullis serves on the board of scientific advisors of several companies, including All Optical Networks and LabBook, and is a frequent lecturer at college campuses and academic meetings around the world.
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