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The Maxine Singer Papers

Letter from Vittorio Sgaramella to Maxine Singer pdf (140,202 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Vittorio Sgaramella to Maxine Singer
Number of Image Pages:
2 (140,202 Bytes)
1976-12-27 (December 27, 1976)
Sgaramella, Vittorio
World Health Organization
Singer, Maxine
Original Repository: Library of Congress. Maxine Singer Papers
Reproduced with permission of Vittorio Sgaramella.
Reproduced with permission of the World Health Organization.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Genetic Research
Risk Management
Exhibit Category:
Risk, Regulation, and Scientific Citizenship: The Controversy over Recombinant DNA Research
Box Number: 33
Folder Number: 3
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Recombinant DNA File, 1972-1980, n.d.
SubSeries: Binders
Folder: Nos. 3-6, 1976 November-1977 February
27 December 1976
Dear Dr. Singer,
Recent progress in molecular genetics and cellular biology has opened new avenues to the modification of the genetic properties of living organisms.
The most relevant discoveries include the ability to fragment in controlled ways the macromolecules bearing genetic information, i.e. the nucleic acids, the organo-chemical synthesis of nucleic acids, the recombination of segments of nucleic acids derived from unrelated sources into biologically active structures, their transfer into selected host systems, the transplantation of nuclear material, the hybridization of somatic cells from phylogenetically distant species, etc.
Scientific and medical experts realize that these discoveries and their developments can greatly contribute to a deeper understanding of the structure of the genetic material, of its normal functions and its pathological deviations.
The recognition that the potential benefits, derivable from the practical applications of the resulting knowledge, are inextricably linked with potential risks, associated with the unpredictable outcome of some genetic manipulations, has led to a deep disagreement both among the scientists and the general public.
It is within the constitutional responsibilities of the World Health Organization toward the health and welfare of mankind to take appropriate steps to contribute to the identification and minimization of the risks, so that fruitful experimentation can continue with stringent safeguards for people inside and outside the laboratories. Accordingly, the Advisory Committee on Medical Research of the World Health Organization has requested the Director General to collect information concerning the establishment of regulations and procedures for the proper control of this work so as to guide countries to formulate and harmonize their policies in the area of genetic manipulations.
Dr. Maxine F. Singer
Laboratory of Biochemistry
National Cancer Institute
Bldg. 37, Room 4A01
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Md. 20014
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