Letter from William Charles White to Florence R. Sabin
Pathologist William Charles White headed the Medical Research Committee of the National Tuberculosis Association, and coordinated
the research efforts of Sabin and others as they unraveled the physiological mechanisms of tuberculosis infection.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (196,533 Bytes)
1926-03-05 (March 5, 1926)
White, William Charles
Sabin, Florence R.
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Florence R. Sabin Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
At the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, 1925-1938
White, William Charles, #15
March 5, 1926
Dear Doctor Sabin:
I have been tremendously interested in your last two letters. I had two interesting conferences with Dr. Cunningham and feel
relieved about the whole situation. I expressed to him my desire, as Chairman, to work with you as cousellor in this field
and he accepted very generously. That may now be considered, I think, accomplished. It will only be necessary that we keep
each other fully informed, then, I think, no danger can arise.
I have not been able to do anything with the oxidase work in the last three weeks as I have had to finish up work on Sanocrysin
and the Tuberculin Conference. Whenever possible however I have been informing myself through the references which you have
sent and such other reading as I can do. I expect to be in New York at a Research Committee meeting and International Union
meeting Thursday, Friday and Saturday of next week and will find sometime to come out and see you. I hope to try scraping
rats, rabbits and guinea pigs lungs and use the Japanese oxidase reaction before I come but may not be able to do it.
I have gone over the McJunkin article twice and I think he misses the point. There seems to be no doubt from your work that
there is a common stem cell. I am not sure however the problem of de-differentiation can be worked out on this group of mononuclear
cells on the bases of their phagocytic attributes. They are phagocytic for such a wide range of colloids and the India ink
method especially seems futile to me. The neutral red rosette seems a much more specific thing. These methods seem to me
to miss the main point which is - that in this group of cells there is one with peculiar chemical properties which has a definite
relation to the existence of the tubercle bacillus in the body at a certain period of its existence therein. It may be that
the peroxidase granules are the key to it but this may not be true. That there is some chemical peculiarity in one group
of this family of cells that makes it a factor in tuberculosis of all animals I feel surer and surer as your work progresses.
It is with the idea of finding this peculiarity that we have thought that Chamber's assistance would be very valuable.
If we can devise, through the microchemist, methods which will bring us the knowledge that is involved in your observations
of the charges in the cell by one of the Johnson fractions and get nearer and nearer to the specific factor that makes this
cell a peculiar chemical factory related in sympathy to one or other strain of tubercle bacillus, then I think, we shall be
on our way, and you and Dr. Doan have laid the foundation.
There seem to me to be two phases that require immediate study - one is the peculiarity of the monocyte in different animals,
- and, the other is the development of the peculiarities in the different strains of tubercle bacillus. There is no doubt
that there is a great variation in the granules and spores which the acid fast family produces. I shall bring you up some
slides demonstrating this from our recent efforts here to degrade some organisms to their earlier evolutionary types.
I have recently been reading the histological picture of Johnes disease and it is quite apparent that if the premise on which
we have been working is correct there must be some chemistry peculiar to the monocyte family in the intestine ruminants which
makes them susceptible in this region to another member of the family of acid fasts. I therefore want to talk over with you
Cunningham's suggestion that he has been able to satisfy himself that there is a distinct difference between the monocyte
of the rabbit and guinea pig. The Lewises have found differences in frogs. Pappenheim called attention to the difference
in large mononuclear cells in different animals. The whole question seems to me to hinge on the development of finer and
finer methods in the study of cell chemistry. Chamers seems to have the technique available and you have opened the door
for such a development. The peroxidase reaction is in line with the general plan for the study of cell chemistry.
Hoping to see you next week and with the kindest regards, I am