Friday, August 6, 2010

Working with the like-minded

Why didn't Martin Henry Dawson work with the biochemist (Michael Heidelberger) that his own Department already had among its staff?

Why did biochemist Karl Meyer work on penicillin with Dawson rather than with clinicians in his own department?

Dawson did work with Heidelberger - but only once  - once in their entire 15 year career together in the Department of Medicine.

Meyer did get two clinicians in his own department of Ophthalmology to try penicillin - but they won't publish until penicillin had become respectable.

His own boss (Phillips Thygeson) pretty well admitted he couldn't get along with Meyer.

Dawson's boss (WW Palmer) didn't believe anything could permanently cure SBE --- he also was on the same chemically-oriented wavelength as Heidelberger - who he had personally hired.

Dawson was much more biologically - almost ecologically - oriented.

Beyond that, Dawson got on with Karl Meyer because Meyer was a very rare biochemist, at least in those days.

He actually wanted his biochemical work to have an immediate and direct
impact on the patients' well being.

Dawson, too, always put the individual patient before the dictates of
abstract Science.

Pulvertaft, Queen, Duhig were all in bacteriology departments - I think this is why their penicillin pilot plants, while less important than Dawson's pioneering effort, probably came off better - and with a lot less heartaches - because growing penicillin was a natural fit in such departments.

Life isn't always fair - you must deal with it as it comes - but I wonder would Dawson have gotten Myasthenia Gravis if his boss had been more in tune with Dawson's vision of the potential of penicillin?

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