Kary Mullis

Born Dec 28, 1944

Kary Banks Mullis is a Nobel Prize winning American biochemist, author, and lecturer. In recognition of his improvement of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Michael Smith and earned the Japan Prize in the same year. The process was first described by Kjell Kleppe and 1968 Nobel laureate H. Gobind Khorana, and allows the amplification of specific DNA sequences.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Kary Mullis.


1944 Birth Mullis was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, on December 28, 1944. … Read More


1966 21 Years Old Mullis earned a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1966, during which time he got married and started a business.
1971 26 Years Old …  After DuPont lost out to Roche on that sale, the company unsuccessfully disputed Mullis's patent on the alleged grounds that PCR had been previously described in 1971.
1972 27 Years Old He then received a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972; his research done in J. B. Neilands' laboratory focused on synthesis and structure of bacterial iron transporter molecules. … Read More


Mullis worked as a DNA chemist at Cetus for seven years; it was there, in 1983, that Mullis invented his prize-winning improvements to the polymerase chain reaction. … Read More


1991 46 Years Old Mullis and Erlich took Cetus' side in the case, and Khorana refused to testify for DuPont; the jury upheld Mullis's patent in 1991.


1996 51 Years Old The anthropologist Paul Rabinow wrote a book on the history of the PCR method in 1996 (entitled Making PCR) in which he discussed whether or not Mullis "invented" PCR or "merely" came up with the concept of it. … Read More
1998 53 Years Old 1 More Event
In his 1998 autobiography, Mullis expressed disagreement with the scientific evidence supporting climate change and ozone depletion, the evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and asserted his belief in astrology. … Read More


2011 66 Years Old Mullis has also invented a UV-sensitive plastic that changes color in response to light, and most recently has been working on an approach for mobilizing the immune system to neutralize invading pathogens and toxins, leading to the formation of his current venture, Altermune LLC, in 2011. … Read More
2014 69 Years Old As of 2014, he is a researcher at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California.
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