It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia Narrative  
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A Nobel Prize?
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"Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease" by Pauling, Itano, Singer, and Wells not only was a revolutionary paper in making popular the general concept of molecular disease, but also in inspiring subsequent research in hematology. Scientists from various fields including biochemistry, genetics, hematology, and clinical medicine contributed to the pursuit of finding, understanding, and treating abnormal hemoglobins. Considering that molecular biology is a discipline comprised of multiple fields including biology, chemistry, medicine, and genetics, it is not surprising that many of Pauling's contemporaries view his work on sickle cell anemia as pivotal to establishing molecular biology.

Some people believe that Pauling's sickle cell anemia work should have been mentioned in his 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. However, he won this prize for his work on the nature of the chemical bond. Others have remarked that he should have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology and in fact, Pauling had heard that he was considered for a Nobel Prize for his sickle cell anemia work. In addition, some of Pauling's colleagues stated at his 85th birthday celebration that he should have received a third Nobel Prize acknowledging his contribution to understanding sickle cell anemia.

Although Pauling did not receive a Nobel Prize for the sickle cell anemia work, he and others understood its significance. Immediately prior to his death, Pauling noted that the sickle cell anemia investigations and article "contributed to the development of the field of molecular biology." Pauling was not alone in this belief. During a banquet honoring Pauling at Caltech in 1986, speakers described him as "the greatest chemist of the twentieth century" and "the true father of molecular biology." Francis Crick, co-founder of the structure of DNA, said (after Pauling's death) that his contribution to sickle cell anemia, as well as the subsequent work performed at Caltech and elsewhere by other investigators, merged the fields of genetics and protein chemistry.

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Video Clip  Video: Excitement Over Pauling's Nature Article. February 28, 1995. (3:53) Transcript and More Information

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Ava Helen and Linus Pauling dancing at the 1954 Nobel Ball. Stockholm, Sweden. 1954.


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Linus Pauling receiving an honorary membership to the American Association of Clinical Chemists. From left to right: Kenneth Johnson, Robert H. Hill, Pauling and William Bergren. March 5, 1957.

Linus Pauling is one of that select group of individuals whose lives have made a discernible impact on the contemporary world. His contributions to molecular chemistry have been substantial and fully deserving of the recognition that he received in the form of a Nobel Prize in chemistry....Pauling continued to do productive scientific work throughout his lifetime, making a second outstanding contribution in his discovery of the molecular processes involved in sickle-cell anemia. This discovery, if made by anyone who was not already the only person to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes, might well have merited a third prize in medicine.

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