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. This
letter from Perkins to Lederberg was written on the same sheet as a letter from Lederberg to Perkins dated 14 September 1972.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (60,062 Bytes)
1972-09-15 (September 15, 1972)
Reproduced with permission of David Perkins.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
History of Medicine
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Can you recall anything of how "Avery" was communicated to the Zoology Dept. in 1943-45?
Harriett Taylor was the key, I suspect. I heard her give a review of Avery's work in a seminar run by L.C. Dunn in 1942,
before I left for the army. Some time after that, she arranged to go to Rockefeller to work in Avery's lab. I know she
felt the transformation work to be crucial.
Salome Waelsch was an intimate of Harriett's at the time, and would know the details of her decision and her role in bringing
Avery's work to the attention of the people in Schermerhorn, where she worked on the 10th floor but was in close touch
with people on the 8th. Rollin Hotchkiss would, of course, know the Rockefeller end of things. (He and Harriett were the only
ones in Avery's lab during his last two years at Rockefeller, according to Rollin's biographical article in Genetics