May 7, 1943.
Dear Dr. Pauling:
Your letter of April 1st to Professor Millikan and the enclosed reports and request
have been forwarded to The Rockefeller Foundation by Dr. Millikan. These documents
have had serious study by the officers and we have also consulted a number of the
leading workers in the field regarding the project.
We have recognized that the stakes were very high in this venture and therefore were
willing to recommend to our Trustees the very substantial support of $31,000 which
you have had this past year. This support was given with the hope that the critical
central point at issue could be cleared up before the termination of the grant. As
we understand it, this critical point is whether antibodies can be manufactured in
vitro or not. From the conferences we have had during the past month with our advisers
in this field it seems reasonably clear that the question in which we are primarily
or even solely concerned -- the production of artificial antibodies -- is not unambiguously
settled. It was also brought to our attention that work on the central problem involved
should require only a relatively modest financial setup.
The officers are willing, after deliberation, to recommend for another year such a
sum of money as may be necessary to secure as definite and clear a decision as may
be possible on this central point. We would do this with the hope that another year
of work might result in the publication of experimental evidence in such clear and
detailed form that experts could evaluate the results precisely, and that the technical
procedures in their smallest details should be so described that the experiments could
be repeated exactly elsewhere, should anyone desire to do so.
It does not seem to us that we should consider going in for the support of immunology
on a broad front at the present time. In fact, our advice is that if the manufacture
of antibodies in vitro were unequivocally demonstrated, this would open up such vistas
for research that support from many sources would be available and we could withdraw
and use our funds for opening other new fields. This would be directly in line with
best Foundation principle -- namely, to take the gamble in the initial stages of an
unusually promising situation, developing it to the point where it commands other
support. We would like to have your best estimate as to what funds -- in addition
to the $11,000 already available -- you would need for a strong attack upon the problem
of the production of artificial antibodies.
In the consideration of this financial question there is one aspect of the budget
submitted which gives us considerable concern. We do not, as a matter of policy, pay
the salaries of permanent members of the staff of an institution. At least in those
few exceptions where we have done so for a brief period it has always been with the
understanding that the University take over the salary at a specified time. I am of
course speaking of the status of Dr. Campbell, who appears in the budget as “Assistant
Professor”, but whose salary is requested from The Rockefeller Foundation. Our grants
usually contribute salaries of research assistants on a year-to-year basis. In the
case of an Assistant Professor or other regular staff member, we prefer not to assume
the implied responsibility when such a person is paid from our research aid grant.
This must necessarily be true since the Foundation rarely enters into long-term commitments,
and there is never any obligation, moral or legal, on the part of the Foundation to
renew grants at the end of the one, or two, or three-year period for which they are
I am writing to Professor Sturtevant regarding the biological side of the request
from California Institute of Technology. Our last meeting until fall will be held
in June, and all information regarding grants for that meeting should be in my hands
at the latest, June 1st. the next meeting will not be until sometime in October.
Frank Blair Hanson.