Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Richard G. Hodges, United States Army Air Forces
During World War II Heidelberger served as a member of the Pneumonia Commission established by the Board for the Investigation
and Control of Influenza and Other Infectious Diseases (later the Army Epidemiological Board) under the Surgeon General of
the U.S. Army. The Commission, headed by Colin MacLeod, a microbiologist and co-discoverer of the genetic properties of DNA,
organized a trial of a vaccine against pneumococcal pneumonia developed by Heidelberger. The trial, carried out among 20,000
trainees at an air base in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, proved that a vaccine made from a mixture of purified capsular polysaccharides
from four different types of pneumococcus (types I, II, V, and VII) provided effective protection against pneumonia when compared
with a control group which received saline solution, and which had a higher incidence of the disease. Hodges, who oversaw
the trial at the camp, sent Heidelberger blood samples from immunized soldiers for analysis of their antibody count. In his
letter Heidelberger expressed excitement about the unambiguous results of the trial.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (45,576 Bytes)
1945-01-18 (January 18, 1945)
Hodges, Richard G.
[United States Army Air Forces]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
[Lab notes from a vaccine trial at Sioux Falls Army Air Field] [1944-1945]
Letter from Richard G. Hodges, United States Army Air Forces to Michael Heidelberger (November 3, 1944)
Letter from Richard G. Hodges, United States Army Air Forces to Michael Heidelberger (January 2, 1945)
All of the samples on your list have arrived safely except Brockgreitens, S.J., 051, and Warren, E.W., 798, which broke in
transit. It would be fine if you could get additional serum from these two men, preferably a little more, as most of the
samples have been very small.
I note that you are down for the session in Texas next month. I do hope that you will be cautious about claims for the treatment,
as it seems to me the total number of cases so far is pitifully small, although the results are highly exciting.
I have been checking the new I, II, V, and VII polysaccharide solution, and have 0.064 mg I and 0.052 V, per cc. I have not
analyzed II and VII as I have no more calibrated sera left of those types. The amount indicated for injections would, therefore,
be 1 cc. as this solution is stronger than the old one.
Wishing us the best of good luck, and hoping you will have an interesting time in Texas,