|An Entrepreneur of Science
In March 1942, Pauling took an odd step. Instead of first publishing his ideas about
artificial antibodies in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, he sent out a press release.
The announcement that his laboratory had successfully created artificial antibodies
was picked up by the wire services and reprinted widely in newspapers.
Announcing a discovery of this importance in the popular press before subjecting it
to scientific review was almost unheard of. But Pauling was in a hurry. He figured
that he and his primary assistant in the antibody work, a skilled immunologist named
Dan Campbell, had gathered enough data to support his claim. Not that the results were crystal
clear. Months of work with beef globulin had not yielded the definitive sorts of data
they might have wanted, but Campbell and his assistants had succeeded in getting a
low, variable level of what appeared to be specific binding with various antigens.
The strength of this binding was lower than that with natural antibodies, but it appeared
to be real. Perhaps a bit more tinkering with the methods of denaturation and renaturation
would boost the yields. In the meantime, though, Pauling thought the research results
were strong enough. It fit with his theory of antibody formation. They should be seeing
artificial antibodies. So Pauling decided that they were.
His press release also highlighted Pauling's entrepreneurial approach to science.
He needed more grant money to perfect his artificial antibody system before commercializing
it. The publicity he generated would help him get the money he needed. The Rockefeller
Foundation was already interested in this work, and so was the government's Office
of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), which was overseeing a good chunk of
the federal moneys being funneled into wartime scientific research. Pauling played
them against each other, using the interest of one group to spur the interest of the
Even without a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, there was Pauling's reputation to
consider. He was not thought to be a scientist who made idle boasts. If he said his
artificial antibodies were real, they probably were.
On very short notice, the Rockefeller Foundation granted Pauling $31,000 for his work
in immunology, including $20,000 to pursue research into the preparation of artificial