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Herschel Mitchell Oral History Interview with Shirley K. Cohen

 Digital Record
Identifier: 2016-02-17-000115


  • Other: 2016 February 17


Interview in 1997 with Herschel K. Mitchell, professor of biology, emeritus. George W. Beadle brought Mitchell to Caltech with him in 1946 from Stanford as a senior research fellow, along with Norman Horowitz, Mary Houlahan, Adrian Srb, and August Doermann. The group worked on Neurospora. Mitchell recalls teaching the biochemistry course with Henry Borsook; recalls Beadle's style as chairman of the Division of Biology. Recalls his earlier work on pantothenic acid and folic acid as a graduate student with Roger Williams. Comments extensively (in mid-interview and again toward the end) on the dubious work done by Lawrence Burton and Frank Friedman as research fellows in the mid-1950s, their consequent dismissal from Caltech, and their later careers in highly controversial immuno-augmentative cancer therapy. Recalls instituting athletic activities at Caltech for graduate students and refers to many of his successful PhD students-among them Bruce Ames, who invented the Ames test for detecting mutagens and potential carcinogens; Mogens Westergaard, with whom he devised a medium favoring sexual reproduction in Neurospora; and Ernst Hadorn, with whom he worked on Drosophila mutants.

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