The Rockefeller Foundation and the Rise of molecular biology.pdf

of 6
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
© 2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd P E R S P E C T I V E S some reasons for his acceptance of the chromosome theory. J. Hist. Biol. 9, 29–57 (1976). 30. Richmond, M. L. British cell theory on the eve of genetics. Endeavour 25, 55–60 (2001). 31. Richmond, M. L. T. H. Huxley’s criticism of German cell theory: an epigenetic and physiological interpretation of cell structure. J. Hist. Biol. 33, 247–289 (2000). 32. Robertson, A. Conrad Hal Waddington, 8 November 1905–26 September 1975. Biogr. Mem. Fe
  ©2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd PERSPECTIVES some reasons for his acceptance of the chromosometheory.  J. Hist. Biol. 9 , 29–57 (1976).30. Richmond, M. L. British cell theory on the eve of genetics. Endeavour  25 , 55–60 (2001).31. Richmond, M. L. T. H. Huxley’s criticism of German celltheory: an epigenetic and physiological interpretation of cell structure.  J. Hist. Biol. 33 , 247–289 (2000).32. Robertson, A. Conrad Hal Waddington, 8 November1905–26 September 1975. Biogr. Mem. Fell. Roy. Soc. 23 , 575–622 (1977).33. Chadwick, D. J. & Cardew, G. (eds) Epigenetics (Chichester, New York, J. Wiley, 1998).34. International Interdisciplinary Symposium, Contextualizingthe genome: the role of epigenetics in genetics,development & evolution, 25–28 November 2001, GhentUniversity, Het Pand, Belgium. 35. Jahn, I., Löther, R. & Senglaub, K., Geschichte der Biologie: Theorien, Methoden, Institutionen,Kurzbiographien (Fischer, Jena, 1982). Online links DATABASES The following terms in this article are linked online to: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences: http://www.els.netCharles Darwin | Thomas Henry Huxley | Matthias Schleiden | Theodor Schwann FURTHER READING The Huxley file:  Evolution Pages: thuxley.html  Access to this interactive links box is free online. the equivalents ofcells — true morphologi-cal units — are masses ofprotoplasm,devoidalike ofcell-wall and nucleus’’anddescribed 27,28 development in 1880 as‘‘progress from almost formless to more orless highly organized matter,in virtue oftheproperties inherent in that matter’’.However,he also recognized that recent cytologicalinvestigation,and especially the unfoldingunderstanding ofthe role ofchromosomes innuclear division,necessitated a refinement inthe previous opposed alternatives of‘prefor-mation’versus ‘epigenesis’.Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-cen-tury biologists indeed attempted to forge justsuch a synthesis — to integrate preforma-tionist principles into epigenetic explana-tions ofdevelopment — particularly after theadvent ofgenetics 29,30 .So,although Huxley’sconcept ofhistological structure might nothave advanced cytology,it did serve theimportant function offocusing biologists’attention on the physiology as well as themorphology ofthe cell,and it spawned anepigenetic tradition in British biology thatcontinued to resonate well into the twentiethcentury  31 .Conrad Hal Waddington’s conceptofthe ‘epigenetic landscape’,for example,canbe linked to this tradition,as can the currentinterest among developmental biologists inexploring the interaction between genes andthe environment 32–34 . Marsha L.Richmond is Associate Professor of Science and Technology,Interdisciplinary Studies Program,Wayne State University,Detroit,Michigan 48202 USA.e-mail:  DOI:10.1038/nrm701 1. Duchesneau, F. Genèse de la Théorie Cellulaire (Bellarmin, Paris, Montreal, 1987).2. Harris, H. The Birth of the Cell (Yale Univ. Press, NewHaven, 1999).3. Haeckel, E. Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (G. Reimer, Berlin, 1866).4. Rinard, R. The problem of the organic individual: ErnstHaeckel and the development of the bigenetic law.  J. Hist. Biol. 14 , 249–275 (1981).5.Nyhart, L. K. Biology Takes Form: Animal Morphology  and the German Universities, 1800–1900 (Univ. ChicagoPress, Chicago, 1995).6. Coleman, W. Cell, nucleus, and inheritance: an historicalstudy. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 109 , 124–158 (1965).7. Roe, S. A. Matter, Life, and Generation: Eighteenth-Century Embryology and the Haller–Wolff Debate (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1981).8. Jacyna, L. S. Immanence or transcendence: theories of life and organization in Britain, 1790–1835. Isis 74 ,311–329 (1984).9. di Gregorio, M. T. H. Huxley’s Place in Natural Science (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1984).10. Desmond, A. Huxley: From Devil’s Disciple to Evolution’sHigh Priest. (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1997). 11. Desmond, A. Redefining the X axis: ‘professionals,’‘amateurs’ and the making of mid-Victorian biology — aprogress report.  J. Hist. Biol. 34 , 3–50 (2001).12. Lyons, S. L. Thomas Henry Huxley: The Evolution of aScientist (Prometheus, Amhurst, NY, 1999).13. Winsor, M. P. Starfish, Jellyfish, and the Order of Life:Issues in Nineteenth-Century Science (Yale Univ. Press,New Haven, 1976).14. Huxley, T. H. The Cell-Theory. Brit. Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Rev. 12 , 285–314 (1853).15. Huxley, T. H. The Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley (eds Foster, M. & Lankester, E. R.) 4 vols(Macmillan, London, 1898–1901).16. Review of T. H. Huxley, “The Cell-Theory”. EdinburghNew Phil. J. 53 , 172–177 (1853).17. Review of T. H. Huxley, “The Cell-Theory”. Quart. J.Microsc. Sci. 1 ,307–311 (1853).18. Review of T. H. Huxley, “The Cell-Theory”. Medical Times& Gazette 39618 October (1856).19. Lyons, R. D. Annals of micrology. Brit. Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Rev. 13 , 418 (1854).20. Carpenter, W. B. President’s address. Quart. J. Microsc.Sci  . 4 , 17–33 (1856).21. Huxley, L. (ed.) Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley  2nd edn 1 , 203 (Macmillan, London, 1913).22. Baker, J. R. The Cell Theory. A Restatement, History, and Critique (Garland, New York, London, 1988).23. Hughes, A. F. W.  A History of Cytology  (Abelard–Schuman, New York, 1959).24. Churchill, F. B. in  A Conceptual History of ModernEmbryology  (ed. Gilbert, S.) 16 (Plenum, New York,London, 1991).25. Kölliker, A. Manual of Human Histology  (Translated byHuxley, T. H. & Busk, G.) 2 vols (Sydenham Society,London, 1853–1854).26. Huxley, T. H. Biology. Encyclopaedia Britannica , 9 th edn. 3 , 682 (Scribner’s, New York, 1878).27. Huxley, T. H. The coming age of the srcin of species. Nature 22 , 1–4 (1880).28. Huxley, T. H. The Physical Basis of Life (Chatfield, NewHaven, 1870).29. Baxter, A. L. Edmund B. Wilson as a preformationist: NATURE REVIEWS |  MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY  VOLUME 3 | JANUARY 2002 | 65  The Rockefeller Foundation began tosupport a systematic transfer of physico-chemical technology to experimentalbiology in the early 1930s. A close look atthree key projects in the United Kingdomshows the impact and limits of privatephilanthropy on scientific innovation. The role ofphilanthropic foundations insociety is ofinterest to historians,econo-mists and sociologists who seek to under-stand the prominence ofsuch institutions athistorical junctions,such as the sudden end-ings ofthe First and Second World Wars,and,more recently,the Cold War.At suchtimes oftransition,foundations — situated atthe interface ofthe public and private sectors,or ofthe state,the corporate/industrial sphereand civic society — seem to have anticipatedimportant policy initiatives on both socialand scientific innovation.Foundations havethe advantage ofgreater flexibility than thestate or other bureaucracies 1,2 ,and such inno-vative policies were later pursued on a larger(both national and international) scale by governments or by large corporations andnon-governmental organizations.Scholarship on the role offoundations inscience has greatly increased in the past twodecades,not only because ofa rising interestin the organizations that mediate between thestate and civic society,but also owing to therise ofscience to cultural prominence 3 .Against this background,the interactionbetween one ofthe foremost philanthropicfoundations,the Rockefeller Foundation(RF),and major scientific change — such asthe rise ofcellular and molecular biology between the 1930s and the 1960s — shedslight on issues ofinterest to both scientistsand historians.How did the RF come to be one ofthemost stable sources offunding during thetransition from classical (organismic) biology to cellular and molecular biology in the periodbetween the mid-1930s and the mid-1960s? The Rockefeller Foundation and therise ofmolecular biology  Pnina G.Abir-Am OPINION  ©2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd 66 | JANUARY 2002 | VOLUME 3 PERSPECTIVES institutions and scientists with establishedreputations,mainly in the physical sciences(which were in the midst ofexciting develop-ments in the theory ofrelativity and quantummechanics).However,after a consolidation of the Rockefeller boards between 1928 and1932,the RF announced a new policy for itsDivision ofNatural Sciences 4–19 .The RF’s then-new director ofthe NaturalSciences Division was Warren Weaver(1894–1978),a mathematical physicist whohad begun his career teaching engineeringstudents at Caltech before moving to theUniversity ofWisconsin.Weaver saw technol-ogy as the embodiment ofscientific progress,and placed an emphasis on the transfer of technology from the physico-chemical sci-ences to experimental biology.Weaver wasinspired by the scientific philosophy oflead-ing scientists,notably the Nobel laureate bio-chemist from Cambridge,Frederick G.Hopkins (1860–1947).Hopkinsportrayedbiology as the science oflife,which held thepromise ofhelping with the increasingly vio-lent ‘social unrest’that was caused at that timeby the Great Depression.He also argued thatbiology should displace physics — the scienceofdeath — which represented the peak ofsci-entific activity by the early 1930s 4,20,21 .Initially,Allan Gregg,a physician(who,in1930,became Director ofthe MedicalSciences Division),hoped to cover biologicalresearch as well 22 .However,Weaver’s positionas a ‘pet’ofMax Mason — the President of the RF from 1929 to 1936 and Weaver’s for-mer mentor at the University ofWisconsin —eventually meant that his Natural SciencesDivision could shift its pattern ofinvestmentsfrom physics to biology,and negotiate border-line cases with Gregg’s division.Weaver’sapproach to funding — to give many smallgrants for short terms,as opposed to the pre-vious policy ofa few large,long-term grants— was detested by Gregg,who likened it todistributing “chicken feed” 23 .However,Weaver’s approach prevailed,and was to haveboth fortunate and unfortunate consequencesfor scientific progress 4–19 .On the one hand,the emphasis placed by the RF on technology transfer accelerated the‘molecularization’ofbiology,as it fundedexpensive new equipment (as well as suppliesand research assistance) at a time when scien-tific trends were subject to rapid changetowards international and cross-disciplinary research 7–21 .The racist policies in centralEurope following the Nazi rise to powermeant that many scientists had to change andoften lower their institutional or disciplinary affiliations.So,the refugee scientists,as well asthose willing to help them outside central Education and medical research. TheRockefeller philanthropies were founded by John D.Rockefeller,Sr (1839–1937) and JohnD.Rockefeller,Jr (1874–1960) between 1902and 1923 (FIG.1;BOX 1) .Rockefeller,Sr consid-ered education to be key to the eradication of poverty and crime,as well as a source of knowledge advancement.His emphasis oneducation is best seen in four enduring insti-tutions he established:the Spelman Collegefor the education ofblack women in Atlanta(founded in 1881);the University ofChicago,a pioneer in graduate education (founded in1891);the Rockefeller University,a leadingmedical research institute established in 1901;and the Peking Union Medical College(founded in 1917).Medical research emergedas another favourite target ofRockefeller phil-anthropy.In this,Rockefeller,Sr was guidedby the charismatic baptist minister Frederick T.Gates.The International Health Board wasestablished in 1913,succeeding theRockefeller Sanitary Commission for theEradication ofHookworm Disease,whichfocused on the southern United States. Funding policy in the 1920s. During the1920s,a policy of“making the peaks higher”,which was initiated by Wycliffe Rose,head of the International Education Board (yetanother institution that was established in1923 by Rockefeller,Jr),led the Rockefellerphilanthropies to fund a few highly meritori-ous recipients who received large sums —often for both buildings and research — andhad no obligations other than doing theirown research and providing advice.Duringthis period,the RF funded all disciplines,although they often selected middle-sizedWhat was the impact ofits specific fundingstrategies on scientific progress? And can theRF’s long-term funding patterns — whichrequired that it be kept closely informed ofsci-entific developments in the laboratories ofitsgrantees — shed any light on the philosophi-cal and ethical issues associated with turningpoints in science? These points include pivotalproblems such as the relationship betweentheory and experiment;between biology,chemistry and physics;between individualand institutional cooperation;and betweenequal opportunity and harassment accordingto criteria ofgender or ethnicity.The three case-studies oflong-term RF-sponsored projects discussed below:in cellu-lar physiology at the Molteno Institute inCambridge;protein structure at theCavendish Laboratory,also in Cambridge;and biophysics at King’s College in London,illustrate all these problems,as well as themore specific themes ofthe rise ofmolecularbiology,and the impact and limits ofphilan-thropy in scientific innovation. The Rockefeller Foundation The RF’s support ofscience has previously been tackled from various angles by many authors 4–19 .Historians,in particular,haveoften emphasized its impact on the develop-ment ofinstitutes,but also on specific disci-plines or scientists.Here,I integrate such pre-vious emphases,and pay special attention toan analytical distinction that is often ignoredor belittled — namely,the distinction betweenthe intentions ofthe RF,as stated in policy-framing documents,and its actual implemen-tation ofsuch policies.Although many goodintentions were shown in the policy-framingdocuments,their implementation was subjectto many practical constraints.Such constraintstended to accumulate and led to ‘unintendedconsequences’ 4,5,13,18,19 .This gap between fram-ing and implementation explains why thisarticle diverges from rosier accounts oftheRF’s influence 10–12 .The officers ofthe RF agonized overmany choices — between large- and small-scale investments;between entrepreneurialor famous scientists versus unknown ones;between prestigious and peripheral institu-tions;expensive versus modest cost instru-ments;or the exercise ofdirect versus indi-rect or delegated power by the trustees of the Foundation 19 .Last,but not least,therewas the issue ofaccountability,not only within the RF,but also in the scientific com-munity,sponsored academic/research insti-tutions,and,ultimately,the civic society thatgranted the RF and other foundations a tax-exempt status. Figure 1 | John D. Rockefeller, Sr (1839 – 1937)and John D. Rockefeller, Jr (1874 – 1960). © Reprinted with permission from the Rockefeller Archive Center.  ©2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd PERSPECTIVES at the molecular and cellular level,furtherincorporated both Perutz and Kendrew in hisinstitute’s teaching,and stabilized the precar-ious position oftheir interdisciplinary research in a university that had little interestin chemists who were working on biologicalsubstances with physical techniques.Ofequal importance for creating a space —both intellectual and institutional — for cellu-lar and molecular biology,was Keilin’s role as ascience advisor.Keilin had studied or workedin several European capitals (notably withMaurice Caullery in Paris) before arriving inCambridge in 1915,and was well informed of changes in science policy — whether by foun-dations or by government agencies.He wasfamiliar with the funding strategies ofthe RFwhich,since the mid-1930s,had focused onequipment and research assistance involvingphysico-chemical techniques on biologicalmaterial.So Keilin suggested in 1938 that Max Perutz (BOX 2) ,then a graduate student atCambridge working on the X-ray diffractionofhaemoglobin,be appointed assistant to SirLawrence Bragg,the Director oftheCavendish Laboratory ( FIG.2 ; BOX 2 ),so thatthey could jointly qualify for RF grants.The Molteno Institute also hosted a virusresearch unit,later adopted by theAgricultural Research Council (ARC),whichcarried out pioneering work on both virusesand nucleic acids.Ironically,when James D.Watson recounted his personal experience inCambridge’s Medical Research Council(MRC) and ARC units during the two yearsbefore the structure ofDNA was publishedin 1953,the only reference to Keilin was thatthe Molteno Institute was better heatedbecause ofits Director’s asthma 31 .But Keilinprovides better reasons to be remembered,among them his foresight to involve both theRF (in 1938) and the MRC (in 1947) in pro-tein-structure research.Although the RF supported Keilin’sresearch for two decades,its lack ofa long-term strategy after the Second World War,when it contemplated pulling out ofsciencealtogether (an event that fortunately took two decades to complete),meant that itfailed to stabilize cellular biology afterKeilin’s retirement in 1952.Such a goal couldhave easily been achieved had the RF capital-ized on its two decades ofsupport.Conceivably,Keilin’s (and also Hopkins’)outlook ofgraciously accepting — but notsoliciting — RF grants 4,18 ,and,even more so,Cambridge’s refusal to endorse the RF’s keeninterest in them,made a great difference totheir modest fortune with the RF.Ironically,this occurred despite the fact that cell biolo-gists and biochemists such as Keilin andEurope,became more responsive to theopportunities that were created by the new policy ofthe RF 14 .On the other hand,the RF’s new emphasison ‘safe investments’in the aftermath oftheGreat Depression,as well as the complex rela-tionship between the officers and the trustees,often meant that scientists could benefit fromthe RF’s policy ofencouraging interdiscipli-nary research only ifthey had entrepreneurialpatrons with a prominent position — usually as directors ofinstitutes or departments.TheRF’s officers favoured such established figuresas formal grantees,as they were more likely toimpress the RF trustees who had the ultimatesay in the officers’project selections in thefield.Furthermore,given some previousembarrassing charges ofinterference —which had led to major universities such asCambridge and Harvard returning RFcheques 4,18,19 — the officers insisted on beingapproached not only by the scientist grantees,but also by the highest authorities in theirinstitutions,usually the vice-chancellors.These constraints eroded the initial poten-tial ofthe RF’s policy to encourage interdisci-plinary innovators,whether they were new-comers or established scientists.Although thisargument has previously been illustrated by looking at projects from the United Kingdom(in Leeds and Cambridge) and the UnitedStates 4,18,19 (at Caltech),I strengthen it here by looking at three key projects — in Cambridgeand London — that came to define the scien-tific frontiers during the transition from clas-sical biology to cellular and molecular biology in general,and from the study ofproteins tonucleic acids in particular. The Molteno Institute (1932–1952) The early success ofthe RF in identifyingsuitable grantees is exemplified in its rapportoftwo decades with David Keilin,a pioneerofresearch on respiratory pigments and thecellular respiratory chain,and Director oftheMolteno Institute for Biology andParasitology at Cambridge University.In themid-1920s,on discovering the cytochrome c  system,Keilin switched his research almostentirely to cell biology,although he contin-ued to supervise research in parasitology aswell.Initially selected for support by theMedical Division ofthe RF in 1932,Keilinbecame one ofthe first RF grantees to enjoy long-term support 29 .Keilin’s research fitted well into the RF’snew programme oftechnology transfer fromphysical sciences to experimental biology,ashe used spectroscopy to observe the spectra of oxygen carriers and catalysts ofoxidation inthe cell,and also compared the kinetics of various metalloprotein-coloured respiratory pigments from plants,parasitic insects andred blood cells.Keilin’s research on the spectraofrespiratory pigments began as a logicalextension ofhis parasitology research — acore field in classical or organismic biology,which dealt with the intersecting life cycles of parasites and their hosts — into cellular biol-ogy,and pre-dates the RF’s new policy by almost a decade.Keilin’s comparative research onreversible oxidation by metalloprotein carri-ers provided an intellectual framework forthe work on the structure ofthe blood pig-ments haemoglobin and myoglobin.Hisinstitute provided biological expertise in thegrowth ofthese crystals,as well as an inter-disciplinary affiliation for Max Perutz (since1938) and John Kendrew (since 1946),whowould share the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for their solutions ofthethree-dimensional structures ofhaemoglo-bin and myoglobin,respectively  24–28 .Keilin,who grasped the crucial role ofprotein struc-ture for clarifying the mystery ofrespiration NATURE REVIEWS |  MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY  VOLUME 3 | JANUARY 2002 | 67 Box 1 | The Rockefellers and their main educational endowments John D.Rockefeller,Sr (1839–1937) was the founder ofStandard Oil Trust (1882) which,by thetime it was broken up by the United States Supreme Court in 1909,had made him the world’srichest man.He gave away halfofhis fortune — about $500 million — primarily to education,medicine and philanthropic endowments.He founded the General Education Board (GEB) in1902,the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in 1913,the International Health Board (IHB) in 1913and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM) in 1918.In the first halfofthe twentieth century,the Rockefeller organizations were an importantsource ofphilanthropic support ofscience.Although none ofthese institutions were createdprimarily to support science,the GEB endowed scientific departments at American universities,the IHB founded public health institutes,the LSRM supported social science research and the RFgave grants to scientists on a global scale.John D.Rockefeller,Jr (1874–1960) also gave a comparable sum in charitable contributions.He founded the International Education Board (IEB) in 1923,which gave fellowships in thenatural sciences.  ©2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd 68 | JANUARY 2002 | VOLUME 3 PERSPECTIVES Department ofBiophysics at King’s College,London,also with considerable RF support. King’s College, London (1946–1964) Founded in 1946,also as an MRC researchunit,Biophysics at King’s enjoyed the mostremarkable entrepreneurship ofthe unit’sfounder,Sir John T.Randall 32 .While still atSt Andrews University,Scotland,Randall hadapproached the RF with a project in cell biol-ogy that used various optical techniques.Randall’s service during the Second WorldWar as a co-inventor ofthe cavity mag-netron — a core part ofthe radar systemthat had a key role in stopping the aerial Blitzkrieg  on London in 1940 — made him aperfect candidate for the emerging policy of using personnel and other assets ofwarresearch for peace purposes,especially inbiophysics 33 .His proposal for a new Biophysics Unit reflected the predicament of interdisciplinary research:whereas the RoyalSociety considered it to be “too biological”,the MRC assessed it as “too physical”.Unlike Keilin’s and Bragg’s projects atCambridge University,which began as RF-sponsored projects that were grounded inlocal research traditions in the 1930s,Randall’s unit was built ‘from scratch’imme-diately after the Second World War.It stabi-lized in the mid-1950s at around 25 members,and the RF remained a steady source ofgrantsfor equipment for two decades.Randall approached the RF at the sugges-tion ofArchibald V.Hill,a Nobel Laureateand science statesman from University College London,whose own work on neuro-physiology had brought him into contactwith the RF’s Medical and Natural ScienceDivisions.Hill,a neurophysiologist,hopedthat Randall would not limit himselfto cyto-genetics.But although Hill told Weaver thatRandall’s vision was restricted to cytogeneticproblems,Weaver was not deterred,and dis-missed Hill as “not a biophysicist”(apparently Weaver believed that biophysicists were only those who turned to biology after a career inphysics) 34 .For Weaver,Randall epitomizedthe ideal grantee,despite Weaver’s observa-tions that Randall’s lab had “immature”peo-ple and “junky and messy”equipment.Moreover,Weaver had to apologize for havingfailed to inform the MRC Secretary,SirEdward Mellanby (1884–1955) 36 ,ofthe RF’sparallel interest in Randall’s unit.On Mellanby’s retirement in 1949,he wassucceeded by Sir Harold Himsworth(1905–1993) 37 ,who enabled the MRC units inCambridge and at King’s College to expandwhile shoring up the MRC’s relationshipswith the RF.Randall’s biophysical empireUnited States,where RF grants were a sourceofmuch-needed foreign currency.The MRC— the lab’s governmental sponsor — paid thesalaries ofthe staffbut gladly agreed that theRF (which had preceded it in the CavendishLaboratory by almost a decade) continuewith research assistance,fellowships,andgrants for equipment.Until his departurefrom Cambridge in 1953,Sir W.LawrenceBragg was the RF nominal grantee in molecu-lar biology.As Bragg readily admitted in hisnumerous promise-ridden letters to the RF,itsgrants were crucial in carrying Perutz’s work on protein X-ray crystallography from the late1930s to the late 1940s 25–28 .The RF’s long-term support ofbothKeilin’s and Bragg’s research projects on thestructure and function ofblood and otherpigments created the institutional founda-tions for the rise ofmolecular biology inCambridge after the Second World War.Although Perutz was the only link betweencell biology and physics for almost a decade(1938–1947),he was eventually joined (in thelate 1940s) by many ofthe would-be foundersofmolecular biology.In 1962,four ofthe fiveNobel laureates in molecular biology had car-ried out their award-winning work atCambridge,in a laboratory that housedequipment and materials bought with RFgrants in the period between 1939 and 1966.The fifth awardee,Maurice Wilkins,whoshared the DNA prize that year with Watsonand Francis Crick,did his work in theHopkins epitomized the interdisciplinary andinnovative research that the RF’s new policy was supposed to support.By contrast,the big beneficiaries oflarge-scale and long-term RF grants tended to bephysical scientists (see below),who shiftedtheir research to biology in response to theRF’s (or other) new funding opportunities.They had no concrete research agendabeyond the willingness to use physical tech-niques on biological material,yet suchphysicists did not hesitate to make frequent,bold and large-scale demands on both theRF and their home institutions.AlthoughKeilin had advised the RF officers in 1934that spectroscopy,or any other physicaltechnique,would not lead to importantresults unless coupled with properly con-trolled chemical and biological investiga-tions;and even though such advice wasrepeated by many other non-grantee scien-tists in the late 1950s,it was not heeded by Weaver or his successors. The Cavendish Laboratory (1938–1963) The RF’s support for protein-structureresearch in the Cavendish Laboratory of Physics began in 1939,and was to continuefor a quarter ofa century — long afterresearch in this area had been stabilized by theMRC in 1947.This gave the laboratory anedge in terms ofacquiring equipment —notably,expensive X-ray cameras and elec-tron microscopes that had to be bought in the Box 2 | Funding the structure of haemoglobin The RF began supporting work on the structure ofhaemoglobin late in 1938,when Sir LawrenceBragg (FIG.2) ,then newly appointed Director ofthe Cavendish Laboratory ofPhysics,approached them at David Keilin’s suggestion,for a grant to allow him to employ Max Perutz ashis assistant in X-ray diffraction studies ofhaemoglobin.At that time,Perutz was a researchstudent who had become a refugee overnight when his native Austria was annexed by NaziGermany.The RF’s interest in his project,probably saved not only his future in science but alsohis life and that ofhis immediate family,whom he was able to bring to the United Kingdomshortly before the outbreak ofthe Second World War 18 .The RF sponsored research on haemoglobin structure for over two decades,being the only stable source ofsupport in the crucial period between 1939 and 1947.In 1947,Keilin rescued thepivotal studies on both haemoglobin and myoglobin by proposing that this work — which untilthen was split between the Molteno Institute (which housed the biological facilities for growing crystalline enzymes) and the Cavendish Laboratory (which housed the physical technology of X-ray diffraction used to find their structure) — be brought to the attention ofthe (British)Medical Research Council (MRC) as a potentially new research unit.In 1947,the MRC established Perutz and Kendrew as a unit for the molecular structure of  biological systems,shortened to molecular biology in the mid-1950s.After 15 years in a ‘hut’,anew Laboratory ofMolecular Biology was inaugurated in Cambridge by the MRC in 1962.Whenthis lab marked its fortieth anniversary in 1987,it counted among its members a world record of seven Nobel prize-winners.It is difficult to see how these developments would have happened without Keilin’s crucial advice,both in 1938 and 1947.Although this situation kept Perutz in adependent status for 16 years,after Bragg’s departure from Cambridge in 1954,both the RF andthe MRC began giving grants to Perutz in his own name,especially after he became Director of the MRC Unit at Cambridge in 1954.
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks