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Letter from Linus Pauling to Milislav Demerec. April 25, 1944.
Pauling writes to strongly recommend Alfred E. Mirsky for an open position at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Pauling speaks very highly of Mirsky's scientific acumen, experimental methods and potential for continued breakthroughs in the field of genetics.


April 25, 1944

Dr. M. Demerec

Department of Genetics

Carnegie Institution of Washington

Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York

Dear Dr. Demerec:

I am pleased to know from your letter of April 17 that you are considering the appointment of Dr. Alfred Mirsky to your staff. I have known Dr. Mirsky well for about ten years, and I have a very high opinion of him, which I am glad to communicate to you.

Dr. Mirsky has in many respects truly remarkable ability as a scientist. I do not know any one who is so keenly interested in the development of the field of science involving the applications of chemistry and physics to borderline problems of biology, and especially of genetics, and who has such a penetrating understanding of the work which has been done. I find that every conversation which I have with Dr. Mirsky gives me some valuable idea. He has a masterly ability to coordinate results into a significant whole, for this reason alone Dr. Mirsky would, I feel, be a valuable addition to any laboratory in which intensive scientific work is being carried on.

Mirsky is an able investigator, who works effectively on well chosen scientific problems. There is no doubt whatever as to his ability to initiate work and to develop it independently. Moreover, the problems which he chooses for attack are always important ones. Although he is an able independent investigator, who does not need to have his program of work laid out for him by anyone else, he has not so far shown himself to be interested in directing any large group of assistants or associate investigators. I would not expect him to want to supervise the work of a number of other people; judging from what he has done in the past, I believe that he would, under favorable conditions, continue to carry on his work himself, with the aid of, say, two or three technical and scientific assistants.

Judging from the talks which I have had with him in the last two or three years, I am sure that he will make every effort to continue hit work on the application of chemical and physical methods to the problems of genetics, and I believe that he will do this mainly by his own efforts, with the aid of whatever assistants are available to him.

Dr. M. Demerec -2- April 25, 1944

There is accordingly no doubt in my mind as to the answer to your Question as to Dr. Mirsky's ability to assume leadership in a research project, and to initiate work and to develop it independently. In addition to carrying on his own research program, he would, I am confident, be of great value to other members of your staff through discussions with them of the problems of science.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling


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