Memo of telephone conversation with Kim Atwood about the early 1940's.
He reports that the Avery story was very widely discussed, for example in Dobzhansky's course in 1942, and that there
may have been one or two seminars before 1944 from people at the Rockefeller group. Sol thinks that Dawson may have given
He is also confident that Francis Ryan was well aware of the work before the paper was published. There were even rumors prior
to that publication, that the capsular polysaccharide had been disqualified presumably with the help of some of the enzymes
that Avery had worked with.
Harriett Taylor was quite close to Bernie Davis in the period before 1944, and this could well have been another line of communication.
Kim thinks that Harriett had a rather low opinion of her own work on yeast, but does not now remember how she happened to
get into it. He suggested looking at the thesis as it was deposited at Columbia. He promised to inquire about that at the
department or with the university library.
He refers to Burnett as someone else who was highly prescient and little known -- he had run into Burnett's work at the
library at NYU Medical School. I commented that I had had a somewhat similar experience quite early in the game, having been
very much impressed by Burnett's review on bacteria phage.
He suggested also talking to Pittendrigh.
In general, Kim reinforces the concept of the very wide currency of knowledge of Avery's work and that how could one have
expected a more rapid development than in fact happened. I reminded him that he and I were among the few people who had heard
of genetics before going into molecular biology, and that many of our colleagues were in the opposite position.
Kim also discussed some follow-up on Hirschhorn's work on the labeling of hemoglobin loci on the 10th chromosome. This
experiment should not have worked but Kim has been able to corroborate it with more sensitive DNA labeled reagents. This suggests
that there is some kind of amplification factor in the way in which Hirschhorn has been doing his experiments, and this, of
course, could be extremely useful even if it was discovered by a blunder.
[Remainder of document is handwritten]
Memo from Joshua Lederberg
To: Harriett - Bernard
1941-1944. How. discussed for its genetic significance
Before rumors from Avery's lab. On DNA, already "known"
Dobz - in his course - in 1942.
FSR knew before the paper was published. Seminars at Rockefeller.