In the summer of 1948, Itano began conducting electrophoresis experiments with help from S. J. Singer. In 1947, Singer received
his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Afterwards he was a postdoctoral fellow in Caltech's chemistry
department sponsored by the United States Public Health Service. When he arrived at Caltech in 1947, Singer began working
in immunology and therefore knew more than Itano about the Tiselius machine and proteins. In fall 1947, Singer was enlisted
to aid Itano with the electrophoresis apparatus, and they eventually detected a difference between sickle cell and normal
adult hemoglobin. Singer left Caltech in 1951 for Yale University where he taught for the next 10 years.
Ibert C. Wells earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1948 from St. Louis University, the same institution from which Itano received his MD.
Wells and Itano had known one another at St. Louis University as both worked with Dr. Doisy; and like Itano, Doisy suggested
Wells to Pauling. Wells was a National Research Council fellow at Caltech from 1948 to 1950. Immediately after Caltech, Wells
taught for ten years at the medical school of State University of New York (SUNY) before moving to Omaha, Nebraska to chair
the biochemistry department at Creighton University's medical school.
Itano and Singer conducted the electrophoresis experiments that experimentally demonstrated a difference between normal adult
and sickle cell hemoglobin before Wells arrived at Caltech. Wells performed other tests that were crucial to the publication;
for example, he isolated the porphyrins (in the heme) and determined that the difference must be in the protein (or globin
portion). Itano wrote his dissertation on the sickle cell anemia work and in it he thanked Singer for helping with the electrophoresis
and thanked Wells (among others) for "discussions on other phases of the sickle cell hemoglobin study."
Click images to enlarge
Ibert C. Wells, 1960s.
Letter from Linus Pauling to S. J. Singer. June 30, 1948.
"[M]y recommendation to young people, which I have been making for fifty years, is that if you want to go into biology, biochemistry,
molecular biology, why don’t you start out by majoring in physics and chemistry and mathematics and then move on later? I’ve
even recommended...to students interested in biology to take the Ph.D. in chemistry, rather than biology, and then...start
work in...plant physiology or some other field. With your basic understanding you will be able to be successful in this field."
November 11, 1990