Original Repository: Oregon State University. Library. Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. Oregon State University Library.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
The Molecular Basis of Disease
February 20, 1952
Dear Mr. May:
I thank you for sending me another article on sickle cell anemia.
I am especially glad to have an extra copy of this paper, because one of the authors, Dr. Herman Branson, worked for a year
You may be interested to know that I have been making tentative plans toward the foundation of a research institute in molecular
medicine. You remember that sickle cell anemia is the first disease to have been shown clearly to be a molecular disease.
Since this knowledge was obtained, Dr. Harvey Itano in our laboratories has found two other diseases that are molecular diseases
-- both of them are hereditary hemolytic anemias, involving an abnormality of the hemoglobin molecule. Thus we now have three
diseases that are based upon abnormal hemoglobin molecules. I think that it is likely that many other diseases of importance
are also molecular diseases, and that a more vigorous attack should be made on the problem of disease in relation to molecular
structure than is being made at present. Of course, the way for such an attack to be made is through the foundation of a
research institute devoted to this problem -- presumably set up in close association with a university or scientific school.
For about ten years I have had in mind the possibility that a medical research institute should be set up close by the California
Institute of Technology, and I now feel more strongly than ever that great contributions could be made to human welfare through
such an action. No significant step has been taken yet, however, toward the foundation of this institute. I would be grateful
to you if you would give me the benefit of your opinions and ideas along these lines.
With best regards, I am
P.S. It seems to me that the molecular attack is apt to provide results of significance to the degenerative and the malignant
diseases which are now the principal causes of death.