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Letter from William Castle to Linus Pauling. September 28, 1955.
Castle writes to thank Pauling for his generosity through the years in attributing to Castle some of the credit for Pauling's initial ideas on the molecular basis of sickle cell anemia. Castle also forwards some information on the history of the term "molecular disease."


William B. Castle, M. D.

Boston City Hospital

Boston 18, Massachusetts

Director, Thorndike Memorial Laboratory and

Second and Fourth Medical Services

Professor of Medicine, Harvard University

September 28, 1955

Dr. Linus Pauling

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Dear Linus:

Never has a chance remark of mine turned out so well as my mention to you some years ago during our railroad journey from Denver to Chicago of the phenomenon of birefringence when sickle cells are deoxygenated that had been observed by Sherman. I mention it now only because I have more than once heard of your generosity and circumspection in referring to this conversation when you gave spoken on the subject of your magnificent work and that of your associates in sickle cell disease. The latest evidence of such kindness has just come to my attention in the opening sentence of Dr. Itano's excellent Minot lecture. That I have not written to express my admiration of your work and to thank you for your repeated reference to my small part in suggesting it, has been due only to the expectation that I should shortly be able to thank you in person. Dr. Itano's words do, however, cause me to feel that a word of thanks is long overdue.

Because of your obvious interest in the antecedent history of "molecular disease", I am enclosing a copy of a rough draft of an introduction that I recently wrote for consideration by my associate, Dr. John Harris, for the opening words of a paper that we are hoping shortly to produce on the pathologic physiology of sickle cell disease and its congeners. I am sure you will be as fascinated as I to read the pioneer observations of Hahn and Gillepsie. These paragraphs of mine also mention some other less relevant items, some of which you might possibly have missed because they are in clinical journals or otherwise somewhat veiled from scientific scrutiny.

I gather that we shall shortly both attend the meeting of the scientific advisors of the Massachusetts General Hospital (December 17th) and am looking forward to seeing you then.

With kindest regards.

Sincerely yours,

William B. Castle, M. D.


C.C.: Dr. Harvey A. Itano

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