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The Oswald T. Avery Collection

Letter from Martin R. Pollock to Joshua Lederberg pdf (112,137 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Martin R. Pollock to Joshua Lederberg
In this response to Lederberg, Pollock provided several avenues for Lederberg to pursue any connections between the research conducted by Avery and Fred Griffith.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (112,137 Bytes)
1972-11-23 (November 23, 1972)
Pollock, Martin R.
Lederberg, Joshua
Reproduced with permission of Julian Pollock.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
History of Medicine
Exhibit Category:
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Metadata Record Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Martin R. Pollock (November 20, 1972) pdf (48,813 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Metadata Record Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Martin R. Pollock (November 28, 1972) pdf (58,398 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 2
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Commentary on Avery and His Work, 1944-2005
SubSeries: Inquiries on Avery
Folder: Lederberg Inquiries, 1962, 1972-1978
23rd November, 1972.
Dear Josh,
Yes, indeed Elliott was the source of my remark that "Avery and Griffith never met or corresponded". But I agree it is remarkable if Avery never wrote to Griffith (if not the reverse). And in fairness to Elliott it was hardly an "assertion", rather a fairly definite opinion which obviously could never be proved. He suggested contacting Rebecca Lancefield who would know "for sure", but I never actually had time to do it before writing the paper up.
As time goes on all kinds of extra bits of interesting information reach me - usually in relation to an objection that I had been a little inaccurate or misleading in some of my remarks.
I think I may have over emphasized the "stimulating guidance of Oswald Avery" -- from the little information I received from Colin McLeod shortly before he died, gently pointing out that the younger co-workers involved felt they had personally contributed in a major way to the development of the whole work. It is very unfortunate that he died before he could give his Griffith Memorial Lecture. I wonder if he left any notes. They would have been most interesting to peruse. I rather doubt if Maclyn McCarty would be so interesting to contact (he was quite the dullest lecturer on the most fascinating subject of all time that I have listened to), but if may be worthwhile writing to him.
The person I feel it would not be useful to contact is V.D. Allison though he worked with, and knew, Griffith well. He wrote to me that "Griffith was a frequent visitor to Endell Street." But Elliott assures me that this was quite incorrect and he was confusing Avery with someone else. I have other reasons to distrust Allison's memory which seems to have gone totally astray in many respects.
A final point which I would be interested to have your views on is the famous Hershey and Chase experiment which I admit to have portrayed in a very misleading fashion. Careful consideration of their findings would provide to my mind very poor and unconvincing evidence of the exclusive role of DNA in heritable information transfer. I still do not understand why their work is so widely quoted.
With best wishes,
M. R. Pollock
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