Drawing of PCR by Kary Mullis

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Description (Brief)
Kary Mullis drew this diagram of the polymerase chain reaction process during an interview for a video history conducted on May 15, 1992, by former National Museum of American History curator Ray Kondratas. The video history is available at the Smithsonian Archives under record number SIA RU009577. Mullis invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1983 as a method to copy specific portions of DNA. He won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his invention.
The drawing’s purple and red horizontal lines represent strands of DNA being copied. The letters “dNTPs” at the top of the page refer to deoxyribonucleotides, the individual units of DNA that are assembled into the longer continuous chain. A supply of dNTPs (which come in four types: dATP, dCTP, dGTP, and dTTP) are necessary for PCR to occur.
To learn more about PCR see object 1993.0166.01, Mr. Cycle.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 81.3 cm x 68.5 cm; 32 in x 26 15/16 in
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
Nobel Prize
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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