Letter from Baruj Benacerraf to Michael Heidelberger
In this letter Baruj Benacerraf congratulated Heidelberger on winning the Lasker Award in Basic Medical Science in 1953, and
reported on research he did with polyglucose and polysaccharides sent to him by Heidelberger. At the time Benacerraf was
studying the interplay between different immune cells in rats and guinea pigs. He later became one of the discoverers of
the major histocompatibility complex and its role in regulating the function of the immune system, an achievement for which
he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1980. Benacerraf's mentor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons,
Elvin Kabat, had been Heidelberger's first doctoral student.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (95,722 Bytes)
1953-11-30 (November 30, 1953)
Reproduced with permission of Baruj Benacerraf.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Awards and Prizes
Allergy and Immunology
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
First, let me tell you how pleased we were to see your picture in Times magazine and to read the very interesting article
concerning the Lasker Award. Annette and I both congratulate you for this well deserved distinction.
I have received the sample of polyglucose and the polysaccharide XII which you were so kind to send us. The first experiments
carried out in the rat have shown that the polyglucose is just as active as dextran if not more in producing characteristic
symptoms of hystamine release and increased capillary permeability, while the S XII did not cause any of these specific changes
in doses up to 100 times as high. This would indicate, it seems, that the immunological relationship between the pneumoccocal
polysaccharide and dextran or the polyglucose, is not involved in the reactivity of the rat towards dextran or similar compounds.
We would be happy to have the approximate molecular weight of the sample of polyglucose which you sent us. We are going on
with our work on the reticulo-endothelial system without anything striking to mention.
Dr. Ovary has just arrived in Paris to carry out some work with us and Mademoiselle Staub on the application of the reaction
of local cutaneous anaphylaxis to the analysis of the sera of rabbit immunized with typhoid bacilla. He asks me to send you
his kindest regards.
Annette and I were very happy to read your nice long letter and hope that all is well with you. We take this opportunity to
send you our very best wishes for a pleasant Christmas and a happy and "musical" New Year.