Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Maurice H. F. Wilkins
In this memo, Lederberg asked Wilkins several specific questions concerning his recollections of the early responses to Avery's
transforming principle in the 1940s that he noted in Wilkins' Nobel Prize Lecture.
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Wilkins, Maurice H. F.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
History of Medicine
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
The Molecular Configuration of Nucleic Acids (1963)
I wonder if you would permit me to press you on the remark noted (from your Nobel Prize lecture) which stands as an interesting
datum in the intellectual history of DNA.
When you say it seemed almost unknown in 1946--what did you mean? Did you have a particular circle in mind? Had you seen
the 1946 Cold Spring Harbor Symposium? Gulland et al's review in Ann Rev Biochem 1945?
Or are you responding to the controversy (e.g. Mirsky) about possible contamination of DNA by protein?
Do you recall how you first learned of, first appreciated, the Avery..'44 paper?
Anything else you might wish to record about this would be most gratefully received. As you know a fair fuss is being made
about the period '44-49, and as I am writing a bit of a memoir myself on the nearby theme of bacterial recombination,
I should like to collect a sound set of impressions.