The Professor, the Institute, and DNA

The Professor, the Institute, and DNA

The Professor, the Institute, and DNA

The Professor, the Institute, and DNA

Excerpt

This book has two heroes: Oswald Theodore Avery (1877-1955) and The Rockefeller Institute (1901-1955). I have had such close associations with both of them that the objective description of facts and events concerning them has often seemed to me less compelling than the subjective remembrance of things past.

I met Avery in 1927 and worked in a laboratory adjacent to his own for the following 14 years. Our relations were so personal that he acted as witness to my marriage in October, 1946, five years after I had left his department. I have been continuously associated with The Rockefeller Institute (now The Rockefeller University) since 1927, except for the years 1942-1944, which I spent at Harvard University Medical School. Since my retirement in 1971, I have continued to occupy the office in which I worked as a member of the scientific staff. There is no place in the world where I have spent as much time as on the Rockefeller campus, and where I feel more at ease. Whenever I approach the stalwart plane trees of the 66th Street entrance, I know "this is the place."

Many of the statements I shall make concerning Avery and the Institute are not based on documents, but on personal observations and memories. Whenever possible, I have checked their accuracy with the few surviving friends and colleagues who, directly or indirectly, participated in the experiences I report. It is obvious, however, that the very nature of my relationship with the two heroes of this book colors my account of them, perhaps at times to the point of distortion. I have tried to acknowledge this difficulty by reporting in the chapter entitled "As I Remember Him" my interpretations of Avery's attitudes as I perceived them during the years I worked in his laboratory.

Documents concerning the history of The Rockefeller Institute are available in the archives of The Rockefeller University and of The American Philosophical Society. I have consulted only a few of these primary documents, and have derived most of my information from semiofficial secondary sources and from persons who have been directly involved in the Institute's affairs.

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