Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Mordecai L. Gabriel
In the early 1970s, Lederberg worked diligently to dispel what he believed was the "myth" that Avery's work on
the "transforming principle" was not widely appreciated by scientists when it first appeared in the mid-1940s. In
this letter, Lederberg asked Gabriel if he could relate his recollections of his initial reaction to the 1944 article by Avery,
MacLeod, and McCarty.
Item is handwritten. Item is a photocopy.
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1972-09-14 (September 14, 1972)
Gabriel, Mordecai L.
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After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Letter from Mordecai L. Gabriel to Joshua Lederberg (September 28, 1972)
Can you remember when and how you first heard of Avery, around Colombia? I have a note around 1/45 that Harriett Taylor had
pointed it out to me. Was she the main vehicle to the dept., or had she been [. . .] with it by other faculty?
Your father called me briefly while I was in Rehovoth in July. Unfortunately I was leaving the next day and could not return
his call. I could not judge his health; his voice was strained but certainly as clear minded as could be.
I have had no news of you or Shoshana for so many years! Perhaps you do not know even that I [. . .] in 1968. Marguerite
is a pediatrician, turning now to psychiatry. We have her 8-year old, David, with us.
Thinking back to 1945 perhaps inevitably focus thoughts back to personal as well as scientific relationships. Your patience
with me while you were finishing you graduate work was certainly a helpful inspiration.