Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter.
Lot 93
Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter.
Sold for US$ 665,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter.
Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
Nobel medal, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, approx. 175g, 66 mm in diameter. Gem Brilliant Uncirculated. The obverse exhibits lovely copper red gold color, while the reverse is more of a bright yellow gold throughout. The obverse with two minor scuffs at 11:00 and 2:00, the reverse with minor marks in the central fields, otherwise as issued, with no sign of friction or wear. Housed in original claret diced morocco case, decorated in gilt and lined in satin.
WITH: Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize Diploma, two vellum leaves (each 341 x 242 mm), the left featuring original watercolor art by Bo Larsson, the right with the details of Mullis' award, in red morocco portfolio ruled in gilt and gilt-stamped "KBM," in custom clamshell box.
Together with a signed offprint of "Specific Enzymatic Amplification of DNA In Vitro: The Polymerase Chain Reaction" (Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, Vol LX 1986); a signed copy of Mullis' 1993 Nobel lecture; a signed copy of Mullis' book Dancing Naked in the Mind Field; TLSs of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to Kary Mullis; and 5 photographs, both color and black and white, of Mullis at the Nobel ceremonies and the White House.

Click here to watch a conversation with Kary Mullis

FOLLOWING THROUGH ON THE PROMISE OF WATSON AND CRICK.

To study DNA, you must be able to see it. Dr. Kary Mullis' groundbreaking invention is known today as PCR, or the Polymerase Chain Reaction. PCR is the process used to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a piece of DNA into something large enough to be visible in the laboratory. Though DNA was first identified in the 19th century, and its three-dimensional double helix structure was famously described in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick (for which the two men earned a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine), it was very difficult to study DNA before the invention of PCR. In other words, Watson and Crick told us how genetic instructions are held inside an organism, and how they are passed from generation to generation; Kary Mullis gave us the tools to use that information for humanity's betterment. The New York Times describes Mullis' achievement as "highly original and significant, virtually dividing biology into the two epochs of before P.C.R. and after P.C.R."

Dr. Kary Mullis is a North Carolina native who received a BS from Georgia Tech and a Ph.D. from Berkeley. During the 1980s, while a chemist at the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, CA, Dr. Mullis was frustrated by the long and difficult process necessary to produce DNA samples for study. In May of 1983, while driving north for a weekend in the country, Dr. Mullis had an "Aha" moment inspired by his knowledge of computer programming.
He describes the process in his autobiography, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field:

"What kind of chemical program would be required to "FIND" a specific sequence on DNA with 3 billion nucleotides and then display that sequence to a human who was trillions of times larger than the DNA? Instead of a list of statements in BASIC or FORTRAN run on a computer and displayed on a screen, I had to arrange a series of chemical reactions, the result of which would represent and display the sequence of a stretch of DNA....
If I could arrange for a short synthetic piece of DNA to find a particular sequence and then start a process whereby that sequence would reproduce itself over and over, then I would be close to solving my problem."

As Mullis drove into the night, suddenly the answer came to him.
"If I could locate a thousand sequences out of billions with one short piece of DNA, I could use another short piece to narrow the search. This one would be designed to bind to a sequence just down the chain from the first sequence I had found. It would scan over the thousand possibilities out of the first search to find just the one I wanted. And using the natural properties of DNA to replicate itself under certain conditions that I could provide, I could make that sequence of DNA between the sites where the two short search strings landed reproduce the hell out of itself. In one replicative cycle I could have two copies, and in two cycles I could have four, and in ten cycles...."

Over the summer Mullis worked on his idea, eventually coming up with a prototype machine. His employers initially did not see the potential, but within a decade, PCR was in wide use. Today PCR is now indispensable to medical and biological research, and none of the tremendous strides made in DNA research in the last three decades—including cloning, the use of genetic fingerprints in both paternity testing and forensic science, the identification of hereditary diseases, the treatment of infectious diseases, and the study of evolutionary history, to name a few—would have been possible without the invention of PCR.

Dr. Mullis' invention has allowed modern science to follow through on the promise of Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix, allowing for the fuller and more comprehensive study of the mysteries of DNA.

Footnotes

  • "Take all the MVPs from professional baseball, basketball, and football. Throw in your dozen favorite movie stars and a half dozen rock stars for good measure, add all the television anchorpeople now on the air, and collectively, we have not affected the current good or the future welfare of mankind as much as Kary Mullis."

    —Ted Koppel, ABC News-Nightline
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