This letter is part of a series to McCarty as Stanley prepared an article that honored the work of microbiologist Thomas Francis.
It included two enclosures, one of which was a copy of Roy Avery's letter to Stanley, dated 26 February 1970.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (142,053 Bytes)
1970-01-29 (January 29, 1970)
Stanley, Wendell M.
Reproduced with permission of Wendell M. Stanley Jr.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
History of Medicine
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Letter from Wendell M. Stanley to Maclyn McCarty (November 14, 1969)
Letter from Maclyn McCarty to Wendell M. Stanley (November 21, 1969)
Letter from Wendell M. Stanley to Maclyn McCarty (November 26, 1969)
Letter from Wendell M. Stanley to Maclyn McCarty (December 23, 1969)
Letter from Maclyn McCarty to Wendell M. Stanley (January 2, 1970)
Letter from Maclyn McCarty to Wendell M. Stanley (February 4, 1970)
Many thanks for your letter of January 2 and for the information contained therein.
I am enclosing a copy of revisions on page 10 made in consideration of your suggestions regarding the additional work published
in 1946. I am also enclosing herewith a portion of a reply I have received from Roy Avery which indicates that he is satisfied
with the manuscript but would like to make a suggestion somewhat reluctantly that the word "Great" be added to the
title as indicated. There is really no reason why this change should not be made and in view of the source of the suggestion
I am rather inclined to include it. What do you think?
Should you attend some of the sessions of the Stern Symposium on Perspectives in Virology at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel next
Monday or Tuesday perhaps we will have a chance for a visit since I plan to attend both days of the symposium.
With all good wishes, I am
W. M. Stanley
hope we may all be together -- God and the war permitting and live out our days in peace."
It would appear that by the time the paper was submitted for publication the following November, Avery, despite the terminology
used in the paper, had convinced himself that the work and the conclusion were correct and he was ready to retire, leave the
rest to others and to live in peace. The war was still on, making especial demands of the younger men. The interests of
his two younger physician associates had changed, for MacLeod had left to accept a position as professor at New York University
School of Medicine in 1941 and McCarty had accepted additional obligations by joining the Rockefeller U. S. Naval Medical
Research Unit in 1942. Although two additional papers on the transforming substance were published in 1946 by McCarty and
Avery, one on the effect of DNAase and the other on an improved method for isolation, Avery had no desire to argue the merits
of the discovery before the scientific world at that time, a world that was fully preoccupied with the war. I am sure that
he felt the pride of accomplishment within himself and that sooner or later the world would recognize that accomplishment.
But the fact remains that no one undertook the task of describing the discovery and arguing its merits and significance before
scientific audiences across the nation; hence several years passed before there was general acceptance.
The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, as an organization, seems to have given scant official attention to the discovery.
In the 1944-46 "Descriptive Pamphlet" of the Institute there is the statement, "More recently it has been found
that desoxyribonucleic acid is intimately associated with the structural organization of pneumococci and, indeed, that certain
nucleic acid polymers of the desoxyribose type possess the capacity, under appropriate conditions, to induce transformation
of the various types of pneumococci. Thus, the nature of the capsular polysaccharide appears to be dependent upon a metabolic
system which at some point is specifically