Original Repository: Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. Daniel Nathans Collection
Reproduced with permission of Joanne Nathans.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
From Phage MS2 to Tumor Virus SV40, 1962-1970
Letter from W. Barry Wood to Daniel Nathans (February 17, 1969)
Dear Dr. Nathans: These photocopies are of the letters dictated on the second tape which arrived Monday, Feb. 3. I've
sent the letters off but I wanted you to know what was in them in case I misinterpreted the dictation. I had a little difficulty
with the word "chondrocytes" which is a new word for me. Sue helped me out there. Tina.
February 4, 1969
I am dictating this note sitting semi-darkness due to a power failure in this section of Rehovot as the result of a storm
now raging outside. This has been a particularly wet season in the north and central part of Israel and I hope the present
storm is the tail end of it.
After about three weeks in Israel we are all feeling very much at home. The people are, by-and-large, warm, cordial, very
informal, relaxed, without pretense. The children seemed to have gotten into stride with Israeli schools quickly; they find
them also more relaxed. As Eli said, "The teacher doesn't shout at you when you whisper to your neighbor or come into
class a little bit late as they do in Baltimore." They are, of course, handicapped by their lack of facility in Hebrew,
but at the rate that they are going this condition shouldn't last too long. What with the Hebrew and learning in school
and learning from a tutor plus their activities with the Israeli children, I expect that by the time we leave, only I will
not know how to speak Hebrew. Joanne, too, has things under control now and she will probably start teaching English in one
of the local high schools or tutoring some of the high school students in order to occupy some of her time in a more satisfying
way. She speaks Hebrew rather well so that she can make herself useful here. As for me, I am finding the lab also very relaxed
and quite enjoyable. Dr. Sachs is well set up for tissue culture work and he has many people working on different problems
in tumor genesis and also in differentiation. He is not so well equipped for chemical work, however. I've begun to work
with polyoma transformed cells; you might say I've gotten my ankles wet and heading out to deeper water. Everyone is extremely
helpful, so that it is rather easy to plunge right in. I think it will be a profitable year. An unexpected dividend is that
Albert Dorfman from the University of Chicago is also in the lab and will be here just about the same length of time as I
will. He is working on the differentiation of chondrocytes in tissue culture and I am sort of keeping an eye on that work,
The Weizmann Institute was quite a surprise to me. Of course, I had heard a good deal about it but I really did not expect
to see quite as extensive and beautiful grounds and buildings as they have. The laboratory buildings are almost all new, striking
and modern in design, and set in a rather extensive tract of land with trees, shrubbery and well-cared for lawns in between.
The Institute is strong not only in the biological sciences but also in the physical sciences as well, including physics,
mathematics and chemistry. It is like the Rockefeller University, in that it has graduate students but no undergraduates.
Also, like Rockefeller are the number and frequency of visitors from all over the world, far too many for us to listen to.
They do a marvelous job in taking care of visiting scientists. On our arrival we were met at the airport even though it was
somewhat late in the evening and taken to our house which is about a five-minute walk from the Institute. The house was actually
rented by the Institute and is being sublet to us. They provided kerosene stoves to heat the house, household wares, linens
and so forth for our use. The Institute sponsors lectures, primarily for visitors, in archaeology, chamber music concerts,
hikes and trips to various parts of the country. We expect to take advantage of all of these.
Contrary to what you probably think on reading the newspapers concerning the Middle East situation, the Israeli's are
calm and confident. The security problem is obviously not too far removed for everyone's mind, but the people go about
their business with spirit and good humor. They travel a good deal within the country and from what I hear, this has not been
restricted either by the security problem.
I can't tell you as yet very much about the country, because we haven't done much traveling. Rehovot, where the Institute
is located, is a small town in about the middle of the country, known primarily for its citrus fruits. It is an attractive
town in many ways: many small shops on the one main street and the surrounding country is well cultivated, mostly for citrus
fruit, and on clear days one can see the mountains in the distance. Although it has been cold and wet, as I mentioned earlier,
everyone assures us that by the end of February the rain stops and the days are warm, if not hot, and the evenings cool. I
expect to visit Jerusalem this week if the weather clears and I look forward to that very much.
Since I haven't heard from you about the changes in the Microbiology course, I assume that the changes in the Virology
part are going along smoothly. If there is anything I can do in this regard, please let me know. Also, I would be interested
in finding out what has been happening on the proposed curriculum changes and also on the Molecular and Cellular Biology course.
Please give my best regards to everyone in the department, and also to your wife.