[Excerpt from Fredrickson's diary on the reaction of several scientists to restructuring the Recombinant DNA Research
On the orders of Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr., the Recombinant DNA Research Advisory
Committee (RAC) was expanded to include several non-scientists including Fredrickson's successor as chairman of RAC, Ray
Thornton. Several scientists, among them Paul Berg, the organizer of the Asilomar conference in 1975, protested against this
restructuring of RAC, fearing that laymen would not understand the complex scientific issues arising from recombinant DNA
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1979-01-29 (January 29, 1979)
Fredrickson, Donald S.
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The Controversy over the Regulation of Recombinant DNA Research, 1975-1981
Twice this week, Dick Atkinson (NSF Director) told me that Paul Berg and a few others were urging NSF to refuse to follow
the NIH Recombinant DNA Guidelines as a "protest against the manner in which the RAC was handled." On Wednesday afternoon
Omenn (OSTP), Alex Rich (MIT-NSF Board), George Pimental, Deputy Director of NSF and I discussed this "insurrection".
I urged them not try to "secede from the Union" for the result would be a Presidential order and a law. Secondly,
I told them to keep their cool, since they might need to react if the new RAC failed to function. (I've also been drafting
a response for JAC, Jr. to a letter from Handler [President of NAS] in which he objects to the manner in which the RAC was
appointed. I've stressed the need to experiment here (and only in the case of the RAC) with compressing the usual NIH
2-tier review system into one tier. I'm also testing JAC's acceptance of this idea, i.e "is he persuaded that
NIH's peer review is, in the main, the best." We'll see how his staff reacts to this kind of language in the draft