Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kary Mullis and the Human Immune Response

Here's an interview with Kary Mullis on the Edge website. When I read his book Dancing Naked in the Mind Field in the late 1990s, I became fascinated with him. He is a strange fellow. Smart, but wonky.

In this clip he talks about his new research to speed up the human immune response. As you watch you get a nice introduction to some biology:

What is wonderful about his research is the promise to find a way to deal quickly and effectively with MRSA. It sounds like a great idea. It is the same kind of "what if" thinking that got him the Nobel prize in chemistry for his PCR invention.

I get a kick out of his honesty. About 28:00 minutes into his talk Kary says that he has given half ownership in his company to a British firm because he knows he doesn't have the managerial skills needed to run it. Then as an aside he states "I rely on my wife as my hard drive". In other words, he knows he is "spaced out" and needs an anchor in his life, and his wife it the one who keeps him focused and grounded. And he is honest enough to admit it without any hesitation.

Kary Mullis is a bit of an acquired taste, but if you find you can put up with his oddball mannerisms, you might enjoy this presentation of his ideas before a college audience.

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