Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

And Many, Many More

As the story goes, the idea that became polymerase chain reaction came to Kary Mullis as he was driving his car on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. That, Bitesize Bio's Rebecca Tirabassi notes, was in 1983.

While the idea wasn't immediately practical as it tedious and manual method, a few tweaks such as using Taq polymerase and a commercial thermocycler made it take off, Tirabassi says. "PCR has become such an integral part of the bioscientist's toolbox that new generations of researchers probably cannot imagine life without it," she adds.

Tirabassi also lists 10 scientific advances that owe a debt to PCR, including techniques that build directly off it like real-time PCR and reverse-transcriptase PCR as well as the fields of paleobiology and forensic science as well as genetic testing.

Mullis received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his PCR work in 1993.