Feb. 18, 1948
Dr. Robert B. Corey
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena 4, California
I am glad to have your letter, and to learn how you are getting along.
Has there been anything done about cooperation with Palmer? I am beginning to feel
a bit uncomfortable about the English competition. They have a gift for driving straight
at the heart of a problem, and getting its solution by hook or crook.
I enclose a copy of a letter to Carl Niemann, about an address that Chibnall gave
here last night. They have not succeeded in crystallizing the quarter-molecules, with
molecular weight 2,500 or 3,500, but they may succeed, and if they so they will [sic]
the crystals to Mrs. Hodgkin. I think that the whole problem is so important that
it would be worthwhile to tackle it independently in Pasadena, and see what progress
we could make. Would you talk with Carl, and consider the question of how much effort
should be put into an immediate attack along pretty much the same lines as those used
by Chibnall. You know that the matter of crystallization of a new compound depends
so much on chance that, despite the head start that Chibnall has, we might well succeed
in obtaining the first crystals. Moreover, the structure determination of peptides
with 26 or thereabout amino residues is such a difficult job that I think we could
consider it the next step on the journey toward the complete solution of the crystal
structure of a protein, a step that sooner or later we shall have to take.
Dr. Corey Feb. 18, 1948
My proposal is that Carl have a man or two begin work at once on the degradation of
insulin, and that as fast as reasonably pure materials are made they be turned over
to you, for crystallization and x-ray investigation.
The progress that has been made seems to me to be truly astounding. I judge that paper
chromatography has been very largely responsible for it.
I am continuing to get along very well—perhaps being kept a little too busy, with
so many extra lectures to deliver. However, I feel that when there is so much interest
in what I have to say it is proper that I make the effort to say it.