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The Michael Heidelberger Papers

Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Salvador E. Luria pdf (63,421 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Michael Heidelberger to Salvador E. Luria
During World War II, a number of biologists and chemists, including Heidelberger, had worked on classified government and military research projects intended to develop vaccines and antidotes against microorganisms and toxins that were potential biological and chemical warfare agents, such as anthrax and, in Heidelberger's case, ricin. In order to develop such vaccines and antidotes, these scientists first had to purify the substances under study, thereby making them more potent. Several of the scientists involved, including Luria and Heidelberger, were troubled by this blurring between offensive and defensive biological and chemical weapons research. After the war, Luria campaigned for a ban on secret research of this kind, and submitted a resolution to this effect to the Society of American Bacteriologists.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (63,421 Bytes)
1947-02-27 (February 27, 1947)
Heidelberger, Michael
Luria, Salvador E.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
World War II
Biological Warfare
Chemical Warfare
Exhibit Category:
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
Metadata Record Letter from Salvador E. Luria to Joshua Lederberg (February 24, 1947) pdf (61,774 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 4
Folder Number: 1
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Folder: MS C 245 (first finding aid)
February 27th, 1947
Dear Luria,
I have just talked to Clark Eichelberger, Executive Director of the American Association for the United Nations, regarding the resolution you propose. He feels that it is already covered by the terms of formation of the Atomic Energy Commission, which was charged with the duty of working out effective prohibitions and controls against the military uses of atomic energy "and other weapons of mass destruction". Once an effective setup has been organized for atomic energy, control of V-2, bacteriological warfare, etc. will be that much easier in the form of whatever pattern is established. Differences of viewpoint on the single objective of atomic energy are so great that more confusion than good would be likely if another class of weapon were considered at this stage. He suggests sending a committee to interview Senator Austin and get his view as to where and when the bacteriological question might best be taken up.
With regard to your resolution itself, I believe the first paragraph should be eliminated, as it contributes nothing to the argument and may prejudice some readers against the remainder.
I am glad you will be able to go to Stockholm, and am looking forward to seeing you there.
With all good wishes and cordial greetings,
Michael Heidelberger
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