As a longtime subscriber to C&EN and a 25-year ACS member, I must respond to a serious mistake made in the article on Herbert Boyer (C&EN, Sept. 10, page 26). Other than this error, I enjoyed the article.
The article states that Boyer formed the world's first biotechnology company, Genentech. This is incorrect. In 1971, a full five years earlier, Cetus Corp. was established in Berkeley, Calif., by Ronald Cape, a biochemist; Peter Farley, a physician; and Don Glaser, a Nobel Laureate physicist, among others. Indeed, they started the company a year or two before publication of the exciting discovery of recombinant DNA by Stan Cohen and Paul Berg of Stanford University and Boyer of the University of California, San Francisco.
I was lucky enough to join other Cetus consultants such as Cohen and Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg as advisers to the company at its very start. The vision of the founders of Cetus resulted in a major industry serving the needs of patients throughout the world and revolutionizing the practice of industrial microbiology and agricultural technology.
Although it was incorporated into Chiron Corp. in the mid-1990s, and then later into Novartis, Cetus should long be remembered as the founder of modern biotechnology and the home of the inventor of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique of enormous importance in forensic medicine and basic science. The discoverer of PCR was Kary Mullis of Cetus, who holds the first and probably the only Nobel Prize ever awarded to an employee of the biotechnology industry.
Arnold L. Demain