In the 1980s I collaborated closely with a Professor at Stanford, Larry Kedes and his post doctoral fellow, Peter Gunning. We patented the human beta-actin (gene) promoter (which I cloned) for genetically engineering cells and animals. We engineered an expression vector with this promoter which we licensed to about 15 biotech companies and handed out to hundreds of researchers around the world. We popularized this gene promoter to the point where it is now used widely, for example, in production of Round- Up Ready crops (rice actin promoter) and in production of giant Tilapia (Tilapia beta-actin promoter).
Ron Cohn in Larry’s lab managed the early stages of this distribution. Ron’s wife was Penny Paterson. Together they founded the Gorilla Foundation with their live-in fellow homo KoKo. To see all three of these people living together, all you had to do was to drive up the hills to the west of Palo Alto to Woodside, first made famous by Joan Baez and later by Carl Djerassi who developed the birth control pill at Syntex in Palo Alto.
Penny taught Koko to communicate with people using sign language. This has been a lifelong endeavor.