Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
Courtesy of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
The National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science
program has made every effort to secure proper permissions
for posting items on the web site. In this instance, however,
it has either not been possible to identify or contact the
current copyright owner.
If you have information regarding the copyright owner,
please contact us at
May I for the turn of the year send the best Season's greetings and wishes at the same time as I thank you very sincerely
for the invitation to the Lasker award luncheon in November. I was very happy to get the opportunity to attend to the ceremony
for the awarding of these important and world- renowned prizes.
At this same occasion I would also like to express my very sincere thanks for the grant of $10.000 which we got from your
Foundation through Dr. Sidney Farber in order to enable us to take a to us very important step in a research line aiming at
a study of the possibilities to apply cytochemical procedures to the identification of pre-cancerous stages in human cytological
material. The background for that was the observation, made here, of early in carcinogenesis occurring chemical changes in
cells, identifiable with our cytochemical methods. A large observational material had then just been collected by us in Sweden
and in the US on human cervical precancerous lesions. It was evident from that that for any future practical applications
- which looked promising - considerable further developments had to be made in the instrumentation used for the cytochemical
work. The grant from the Lasker Foundation was of crucial importance for the most urgently desired of those developments and
led in 1963 to the finishing of a fluorescence method for the determination in large cell series of as well nucleic acid fractions
as also of proteins in cells. The basic methodological work was carried through by Dr. R. Rigler's, a young man with as
well a medical as a biophysical training. The method was ready, as planned, in early 1964 and two publications are in press
on the method. Rigler's work led him still further and he found that his method of analysis could also be applied to many
questions concerning fundamental cell biology. He has pursued that with very good success in 1964 and I believe I am right
in saying that the Lasker-grant in this way started a quite promising scientific carrier for a good young man here. Thanks
to that work I expect he will get a docent-appointment here soon.
According to the original plans the method would then be applied immediately, together with other instrumentation available
here, on a larger series of human precancerous situations by a wider working group in the institute; means for that work were
already available from local sources. In January 1964 we had, however, the bad luck of having a quite bad fire in the institute,
damaging exactly half the laboratory spaces, but fortunately only small parts of the basic so important instrumentation.
Most research lines came through relatively well, but a few lines had to be considerably postponed and to these belonged the
practical application mentioned above, as that line craved an especially large bulk of technical work, which was impossible
in the circumstances.
For 1965, however, we foresee a quite wide application of the new method, together with the supplementing others indicated
above, in the first line on a series of experimental pre-cancerous materials /a field where we have productive collaboration
now with Dr. Farber 's group/and also on human clinical material. For the latter purpose we have already since a couple
of months a young pathologist working at the tumor clinic here specifically on this project.
As I would very much have liked to supplement the description of the work under the grant when it was finished in January
1964 with direct examples of applications on clinical material I delayed the report and then got caught in the mess resulting
from the fire accident.
I apologize for not having let hear from me before to the Foundation because of the situation in which we have been this year
but which is now passed. Because of that I now take the liberty of writing you personally as I am anxious to make it very
clear to you how very much we estimated and appreciated the grant, which was a very real help to us in a project which we
look upon as quite important and led to the desired goal - even if the scheduled practical application had to be considerably
postponed because of our bad luck in 1964.
It is also a pleasure to me to find that the developments made possible by the grant have also, as indicated above, led to
a further widening of our contacts with Dr. Farber's group, now also in the field of carcinogenesis.