A surfer and one-time San Diegan, Kary Mullis, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993 for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction, considered one of the monumental scientific techniques of the 20th century.
That year, Mullis also became the founding honorary chair of the Luau and Longboard Invitational, a benefit for the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center that unites two passions in San Diego: surfing and science.
Two decades later, Mullis returns to the event as the 2013 recipient of the Rell Sunn Award, which will be presented at the 20th annual Luau and Longboard Invitational that kicks off at 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at the beach near Scripps Pier in La Jolla.
Over the years, the event has raised nearly $6 million to advance research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. It opens with a surfing competition followed by a luau celebration, which includes the presentation of the Rell Sunn “The Queen of Makaha” Award, established in memory of Rell Sunn, a Hawaiian surfer and longtime invitational supporter who lost her battle with breast cancer.
“We are very excited to present Kary Mullis with the Rell Sun Award on the 20th anniversary of the Luau,” said Sam Armstrong, who is co-chairing the event with John Otterson. (Armstrong and Otterson also served as co-chairs of the first Luau and Longboard Invitational.)
“Kary and Rell surfed on a team together at the first Luau and Longboard Invitational. Like several of our awardees, Kary represents the cornerstone of the biotech industry, and his work has had a profound impact for cancer research,” Armstrong said.
This year’s participating surf legends include Robert August, star of the 1966 surf documentary “The Endless Summer"; Fernando Aguerre, founder of Reef and president of the International Surfing Association; Jericho Poppler, cancer survivor and pioneer of women’s professional surfing; Rusty Preisendorfer, UC San Diego alumnus, San Diego native and founder of Rusty Surfboards; and Kathy “Gidget” Zuckerman, the inspiration for the fictional character of the 1957 novel, “Gidget: The Little Girl with Big Ideas,” which was based on her experiences growing up and surfing in Malibu.
The surfing competition is free to view; a ticket to the luau fundraiser is $150. For more information, call (858) 246-1230, or visit