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DNA repair, DNA replication and human disorders: A personal journey

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posted on 2023-06-08, 11:18 authored by Alan LehmannAlan Lehmann
I was born in 1946 and grew up in the industrial north-west of England close to the city of Manchester. My parents were German- Jewish refugees, who left Germany fairly early, in 1933. My father helped to establish and was one of the directors of a tannery, which made leather for shoes and handbags. This was part of a group of tanneries established first in Strasbourg by my great-grandfather Ferdinand Oppenheimer. I would describe my childhood and adolescent years as comfortable by general post-war standards. I went to a state primary school and obtained a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School (MGS), a fairly prestigious secondary school. As a child I was always interested in chemistry but had little interest in or knowledge of biology. The educational system in the UK at that time was such that one had to specialise very early and as a consequence I have had no formal biology education since the age of 12, something I have managed to hide reasonably successfully for the rest of my life! In my final two years at MGS I studied just physics, chemistry and mathematics and obtained a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge (England) to study Natural Sciences, with the intention of becoming a chemist. In the second year at Cambridge, one of the options was a course on biochemistry. Having no real idea what this was, I read a book about it in the summer of 1965, and was truly astonished and excited to discover that the basis of life was just a bunch of rather complicated organic chemistry reactions. So I took the biochemistry course in my second year. By the end of that year, I was fed up with chemistry and for my final year I chose to do biochemistry rather than chemistry, a decision I have not regretted. The biochemistry lectures must have been pretty up-to-date, as we were told briefly about the discovery of DNA repair by Dick Setlow [1], a topic that seemed rather esoteric at the time.


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DNA Repair









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