It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
"2 Seconds"
<  10  >

The scientific research Pauling conducted during the 1930s and early 1940s gave him a unique knowledge of structural chemistry, physical chemistry, immunology, and biology as well as an experimental understanding of hemoglobin and its derivatives (oxyhemoglobin and carbonmonoxyhemoglobin). Pauling's diverse scientific background allowed him to contribute significantly to the understanding of why the red blood cells in people suffering from sickle cell anemia distort into a crescent-shape. His theory of the sickling process of hemoglobin led him to define sickle cell anemia as a molecular disease. This innovative concept of molecular disease inspired others to analyze the molecular composition of human hemoglobin.

When Pauling learned of sickle cell anemia in 1945, he drew on his knowledge gathered from his previous researches on hemoglobin and immunology and immediately thought that he comprehended the sickling process. Pauling later reflected that the idea had occurred to him in "2 seconds."

Previous Page Next Page

See Also: "The Molecular Basis of Sickle-cell Anemia and Other Diseases." August 13, 1963. 

Click images to enlarge 

Members of the Caltech Chemistry Department. 1941.

Page 2
"The Impact of Molecular Information on Disease." January 20, 1972.

"[M]anufacture of abnormal determined by the genetic constitution of the patient; the disease is inherited. A disease of this sort, caused by molecules of abnormal structure present in the patient in place of the molecules of normal structure that are present in normal human beings, is called a molecular disease."

Linus Pauling
May 2, 1956
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day