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Timelines: 1989

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Taq polymerase

The journal Science selects Taq polymerase as its 1989 ‘Molecule of the Year.’  Taq polymerase is the enzyme that enables the full automation of PCR (polymerase chain reaction), the technique used to copy and multiply oligonucleotides (DNA samples) for laboratory analysis. The inclusion of Taq polymerase in PCR processing vastly increases convenience, speed, and throughput volumes in oligonucleotide production. Conspicuously absent from mention in the article is the inventor of PCR, Kary Mullis. Combined with his outspokenness, Mullis’ unorthodox scientific views, his taste for controversy, and his aggressive self-promotion have served to alienate many in the scientific community.

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