Few technical breakthroughs have changed the face of their field like the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Gene cloning, sequencing of complex genomes, DNA fingerprinting and DNA-based diagnostics are just some of the techniques that were either inefficient, crude or plain impossible before PCR. The technique has revolutionized biological research and biotechnology to such an extent that it can be considered as one of the major reasons for the boom the field has experienced over the last 20 years or so.
Kary Mullis is generally credited with inventing PCR in 1983 while working for Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, California. What was Mullis working on that led to his intellectual leap and how did he perfect the technique? This classic Bitesize Bio article on the discovery of PCR answers those questions and remains a favorite of readers.