A while ago, Kevin Feldheim (the Pritzker Laboratory Manager) sent an e-mail message to a company called Everist Genomics with a simple request. Everist Genomics was hosting an event in the Field Museum, and Kary Mullis was speaking. Kary Mullis is the scientist who invented the Polymerase Chain Reaction, and Kevin, Erica, and I wanted to hear him speak. We promptly forgot about sending in our request. On Friday, Everist Genomics contacted us and let us know we could attend the event. So, Erica, Kevin, and I dressed in our Sunday best, and went to the Museum. The east entrance to Field Museum was really beautifully decorated in blue and white. Like the science nerds that we are, we were immediately drawn to the ice sculpture of a DNA molecule and took many pictures of the molecule and ourselves with the molecule (that's what the picture representing this blog post is). We had an excellent dinner, with great company, and received an autographed copy of Dr. Mullis' book. Dr. Mullis is a terrific story teller, and it was enjoyable to hear him talk about the events leading him to this discovery. It was really interesting to hear what Everist Genomics is doing--they have diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer (OncoDefender) that are promising for treating this devastating form of cancer. My Dad died of colon cancer, so I wish them all the best with these endeavours. Kevin, Erica, and I want to thank Everist Genomics for being willing to have us at their event (and in particular want to thank Frank Urban).
PCR is the technique we use every day in the lab to amplify and sequence very specific regions of genomes. It would be hard to overstate the importance that PCR has had on molecular biology. Without PCR, there would be no Human Genome Project, no dissertation for me, no Early Bird Project, no Emerging Pathogens Project, etc. PCR was named Molecule of the Year in 1989--the first such honour by Science magazine, one of the leading scientific publications. Dr. Mullis received a Nobel Prize for his work in 1993.