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Letter from Barton Childs to Joshua Lederberg

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  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


THE JOHNS HOPKINS BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21205 Department of Pediatrics December 4, 1985 Dr. Joshua Lederberg Office of the President The Rockefeller University 1230 York Avenue New York, NY 10021-6399 Dear Josh: Thanks for yours of 12 and 26 Nov. and for the interesting enclosures. It seems to me that you've asked five questions. They are: 1) When did Haldane, Scott-Moncrieff, and S. Wright first refer to Garrod? 2) Did G. extrapolate from pathogenic mutant genes to the view that genes were the source of developmental information? 3) Does he ever say anything about the normal allele? 4) The 1:l idea is a subset of the statement that the genes carry all the hereditary information. What were G. '8 views on this? 5) Why was he asked to give the Croonian Lectures? As to question 1, I haven't done the homework yet, but Haldane's "The Enzymes" (1930) doesn't cite Garrod, but Wright did cite him in his Physiological Reviews paper of 1941. I looked up all the textbooks of Biochemistry in our library that were published before 1945. What I found is enclosed. As you see, Garrod was mentioned, usually briefly, and without any perception that he had had a profound idea. About questions 2-4. I've made a Xerox copy of the chapter on chemical individuality from Garrod's later book "Inborn Factors in Disease," and you will see that he alluded to development and the information in the hereditary material. He knew about mutations which occurred in the "germinal cells," and he refers to recessive and dominant modes of inheritance, so he knew that man is diploid (presumably). But he never mentions the words gene or allele any- where that I could discover. I've always thought his views of Dr. Joshua Lederberg -2- December 4, 1985 genetics ambiguous; I don't really know what he thought. He never expressed any relationship between one gene and one enzyme. His 1:l idea was 1 enzyme:1 inborn error. By 1931 all the physical basis work ha

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