Kary Mullis

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Kary Mullis

Kary Banks Mullis (b. 28 December 1944) is an American biochemist.

Mullis came up with the idea of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a central technique in molecular biology which is used to amplify specified DNA sequences. PCR is used by AIDS researchers to detect HIV, although Mullis himself believes PCR is incapable of this. For his contributions to PCR, Mullis was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Japan Prize in 1993.

Mullis is vocal in his criticism of centrally funded scientific research programmes, such as those supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He feels the HIV/AIDS hypothesis has been completely discredited, but remains in place because of money and politics. He hypothesizes that viral and bacterial overload and blood transfusions have contributed to many AIDS cases.


Mullis was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, and received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972. He has been married four times (including his current marriage), and has two sons and one daughter. He currently resides in Newport Beach, California, La Jolla, California, and Anderson Valley, California.

PCR controversy

A lingering controversy and court-cases surround the PCR invention and patent, mostly due to work done by late Kjell Kleppe, a Norwegian scientist working at Nobel Laureate H. Gobind Khorana's famous Institute for Enzyme Research at University of Wisconsin from 1968 to 1970. In 1969, Kleppe published papers describing the principles of PCR. Details around this work are available in a Science article by Arthur Kornberg, February 1991, and a 20-page article by Kleppe and Khorana in Journal of Molecular Biology, 1971. Arthur Kornberg described in a later interview how Stuart Linn, professor at University of California, Berkeley, used Kleppe's papers in his own classes, in which Kary Mullis was a student at the time. But no one questions that Mullis was the creator of the thermus aquaticus PCR method in such widespread use today.

The anthropologist Paul Rabinow wrote a book on the history of the PCR method in 1996 which questioned whether or not Mullis "invented" PCR or "merely" came up with the concept of it (the key difference being that it was not actually Mullis himself who was able to make the process workable). Rabinow interviewed Mullis's co-workers at Cetus Corporation who reported that Mullis as a person was quite unpredictable and problematic, and that PCR was the only one of his many ambitious ideas to pan out.

Other scientific work and opinions

Mullis has been issued patents for a UV-sensitive plastic that changes color in response to light, and most recently an approach for mobilizing the immune system to neutralize invading pathogens and toxins, leading to the formation of his current venture, Altermune LLC.

Mullis disagrees with current theories about global warming, denying that it is caused by humans. He also disagrees that CFC's cause ozone depletion. (Mullis 1998)

Mullis achieved his greatest public fame as a forensic DNA analyst and witness for the defense in the OJ Simpson trial.

In 1998, Mullis published Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, a collection of essays. He relates a number of strange experiences, which are often used to question his scientific judgment. These include a "glowing raccoon", which Mullis claims spoke to him.


  • "If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document...The HIV theory, the way it is being applied, is unfalsifiable and therefore useless as a medical hypothesis." (Hodgkinson 1993)
  • "Years from now, people will find our acceptance of the HIV theory of AIDS as silly as we find those who excommunicated Galileo." (Mullis 1998)
  • "People keep asking me, 'You mean you don't believe that HIV causes AIDS?' And I say, 'Whether I believe it or not is irrelevant! I have no scientific evidence for it.' I might believe in God, and He could have told me in a dream that HIV causes AIDS. But I wouldn’t stand up in front of scientists and say, 'I believe HIV causes AIDS because God told me.' I’d say, 'I have papers here in hand and experiments that have been done that can be demonstrated to others.' It’s not what somebody believes, it’s experimental proof that counts. And those guys don’t have that." (Schoch 1994)
  • "Claims made by scientists, in contrast to claims made by movie critics or theologians, can be separated from the scientists who make them. It isn’t important to know who Isaac Newton was. He discovered that force is equal to mass times acceleration. He was an antisocial, crazy bastard who wanted to burn down his parents’ house. But force is still equal to mass times acceleration. It can be demonstrated by anybody with a pool table and familiar with Newton’s concepts." (Mullis 1998)
  • "We don't want to have too much of it [creativity] because it implies lawlessness and non-cooperation. It is a completely anti-social act to be creative. There's a constant balance between how much creativity society wants, and how much it is willing to put up with." (Goettling 1994)
  • "Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron."

Documents and external links


Dancing Naked in the Mind Field




  1. Goettling, Gary, 1994. "The Unconventional Genius of Kary Mullis", Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine Online, Summer 1994.
  2. Hodgkinson, Neville, 1993. "AIDS: Why We Won't Be Silenced", The Sunday Times (London), 12 December 1993.
  3. Mullis, Kary, 1998. Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, Pantheon Books, 1998, ISBN 0679774009.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Schoch, Russell, 1994. "A conversation with Kary Mullis", California Monthly Vol. 105, no. 1, p. 16-21. September 1994.


This page uses content from the Kary_Mullis article on Wikipedia, captured on 18 Dec 2005. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the AIDS Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.