Skip to main contentU.S. National Library of MedicineU.S. National Library of Medicine

Profiles in Science
Pinterest badge Follow Profiles in Science on Pinterest!

The Michael Heidelberger Papers

Letter from Louise Pearce to Michael Heidelberger pdf (61,294 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Louise Pearce to Michael Heidelberger
In 1919, Heidelberger and Walter A. Jacobs synthesized a variant of the aromatic arsenical Salvarsan, Paul Ehrlich's "magic bullet" for syphilis, which proved effective against trypanosomes, the parasites that cause African sleeping sickness. They called it tryparsamide. Louise Pearce conducted the successful (and to her own health, risky) human field trials of tryparsamide in the Belgian Congo, a colonial region of Africa in which the disease was endemic. In this letter she described her voyage to Africa, the conventional treatment for the disease administered in the local hospital in Leopoldville (today Kinshasa), and Pearce's efforts to enlist sick patients for the trial.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (61,294 Bytes)
1920-07-17 (July 17, 1920)
Pearce, Louise
Heidelberger, Michael
Courtesy of Michael Heidelberger.
The National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science program has made every effort to secure proper permissions for posting items on the web site. In this instance, however, it has either not been possible to identify or contact the current copyright owner. If you have information regarding the copyright owner, please contact us at
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Trypanosomiasis, African
Exhibit Category:
The Making of an Immunologist: Heidelberger's Years at the Rockefeller Institute, 1912-1927
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 9
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Folder: MS C 245 (first finding aid)
Congo Belge.
17 July 1920
Dear Dr. Heidelberger--
It was very good of you to send me a book for my journey -- and I certainly appreciate your thought of me. As perhaps you know -- my steamer packages were not put on board the Kronlaud[?] through some body's stupid mistake -- but they were sent on another boat and I got the box here. Books are more than acceptable in this part of the world -- We get mail only once a month -- and the local paper contains nothing but advertisements.
I have had a very strenuous and exhausting journey which I'll tell you about on my return -- but at last I am here and actually at work. At times, I thought that Leopoldville must be on another planet. The laboratory building is in the process of construction -- but
the ground floor of 3 rooms is practically finished. There is no electricity at present -- but the permanent equipment is fairly good. The director has charge of the negro hospital in which there are about 70 advanced cases of sleeping sickness undergoing the routine [. . .] and Emetique treatment -- 0.5g [. . .] on Monday -- 0.1g emetique on Thursdays. I was given 3 relapses to begin on -- a most unfortunate type of case -- but the next day, an early untreated patient arrived. 2.0 grams of AG3 cleared the cervical lymph glands of trypanosomes within 21 hours -- and I am now waiting to see when a relapse takes place. I hope to get more similar cases from the nearest epidemic center -- about 500 miles away!
With best wishes -- a renewed thanks for the book -- I am --
Sincerely yrs
Louise Pearce
Metadata Last Modified Date:
Linked Data:
RDF/XML     JSON     JSON-LD     N3/Turtle     N-Triples