David Deamer explores origins of first living cell

David Deamer pours a "prebiotic soup" of chemicals into a volcanic pool in Kamchatka, Russia, to test a hypothesis about the origins of life. Photo by Tony Hoffman
Date: 
Monday, March 27, 2006
Author: 
Tim Stephens

Blowing bubbles is child's play, showing how easily soap molecules can assemble into a sheet and curl around to form a bubble. To David Deamer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and acting chair of biomolecular engineering, the formation of a soap bubble is no mere curiosity—it illustrates an essential property of the kinds of molecules that compose the membranes of all living cells. While other researchers debate whether DNA or proteins came first, Deamer traces the origin of life to microscopic bubblelike membranes.

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