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Letter from Linus Pauling to Henry Allen Moe. December 19, 1952.
Pauling writes to detail his experiences with and high regard for Alexander Todd. In recounting the import of his summer meetings with Todd, Pauling also mentions that "I have now discovered, I believe, the structure of the nucleic acids themselves."


19 December 1952

Mr. Henry Allen Moe

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

551 Fifth Avenue

New York 17, N.Y.

Dear Henry:

Thanks for sending me the clipping from the New York Times on the synthesis of some coenzymes by Todd.

Todd's work is of the greatest importance. I think that his earlier work on the synthesis of nucleosides and nucleotides is probably to be considered as more important than just the synthesis of these coenzymes. This recent synthesis is a continuation of the earlier work - an application of now synthetic methods that Todd discovered.

You no doubt remember that we had Todd over here, in the spring of 1938, and that we offered him a professorship. He would have accepted it, I think, except that the British got busy and arranged for a professorship at Manchester to be given to him. I believe that Todd is to be considered the leading organic chemist in Great Britain now, except for Sir Robert Robinson.

I talked with Todd about his work a good bit this summer; we stayed with the Todds in Cambridge. In particular, I discussed the significance of his results with respect to the structure of nucleic acids. Principally as a result of this meeting with him, I have now discovered, I believe, the structure of the nucleic acids themselves. Biologists probably consider that the problem of the structure of nucleic acid is fully as important as the structure of proteins. I think that Dr. Corey and I will probably send in a note on the discovery of the structure of nucleic acids next month; we want to check up on our present structure a bit more before announcing it.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling: W

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