The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique was invented in 1985 by Kary B. Mullis, a chemist at the Cetus Corporation, a biotechnology firm in Emeryville, California. PCR allowed scientists to make millions of copies of a scarce sample of DNA. Although revolutionary, Mullis' technique proved to be slow and labor-intensive, and Cetus scientists soon automated the process with the creation of the first thermocycling machine, MR. CYCLE. In 1985, Cetus formed a joint venture with the Perkin-Elmer Corporation in Norwalk, Connecticut, and introduced the DNA Thermal Cycler. On January 15, 1989, Cetus announced an agreement to collaborate with Hoffman-La Roche on the development and commercialization of in vitro human diagnostic products and services based on PCR technology. The PCR patent and associated technology was later purchased by Roche Molecular Systems.
(1) Description in control file; (2) name index to transcript.
Ramunas A. Kondratas, National Museum of American History, documented the discovery, development, commercialization, and applications of PCR technology. Interviewees included Kary B. Mullis, Norman Arnheim, John G. Atwood, Peter Barrett, Joseph L. DiCesare, Henry Anthony Erlich, Fred Faloona, David H. Gefland, Lawrence Allen Haff, David C. Jones, Elena D. Katz, Shirley Kwok, Richard Leath, Lynn H. Pasahow, Enrico Picozza, Riccardo Pigliucci, Randall K. Saiki, Donna Marie Seyfried, John J. Sninsky, Stephen Scharf, Robert Watson, Thomas J. White, Timothy M. Woudenberg, Joseph Widunas, Robert P. Regusa, Robert L. Grossman, and Lesley S. Kelley.
Topics discussed include the invention of the PCR technique, early applications, PCR patent rights, Perkin-Elmer's joint venture with Cetus, the design and engineering of commercial thermocyclers, marketing, and future applications.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520