As I look back, I realize that serendipity has played a major role in my life. I grew up in Santiago, Chile. As far back as I can remember I was interested in plants and animals, enjoying my Aunt Olga's farm, where I could observe the reproduction of rabbits and crossed plants of different colors. When I was a teenager a devastating earthquake in the South killed an aunt and two infant cousins who happened to be at the epicenter just for one night. That unfair tragedy convinced me that life had been created by natural forces, and the way to prove it was by synthesizing a living cell in vitro.
Author Posting. © American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Biological Chemistry 284 (2009): 10285-10290, doi:10.1074/jbc.X800013200.