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Zen - Den Cotswolds

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Jackson Gonzalez
Jackson Gonzalez

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SL: I would say he was, yes. He actually hired me - I interviewed with him. I found him to be a very intense, motivated person. I liked him. I thought his personality was quite intense, but he seemed to be very bright, very sharp, very insightful, and I enjoyed working with him and for him in the direct mail program. As the schism developed between Robinson and Pauling and Robinson was no longer physically present in the Institute - I worked, as time permitted, in scientific operations. Alan Sheets was a biochemist who was doing work on vitamin C and also in the vitamin C and skin cancer experiments that were being overseen by Robinson and Pauling at the time. And Alan and I really hit it off and liked to talk about science. And, of course, I had some background in science at Stanford. They were sometimes under staffed in the scientific sector, and I would volunteer to do work with the animals in the laboratory. I think I had an aptitude for that work and some competence, as well. And that was recognized by Alan and Dick Willoughby and other people who were involved in that realm at the time, so gradually my responsibilities and my activities shifted from the direct mail campaign to working as a research assistant or research associate in the laboratory. [0:09:35]

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And Emile and I got along so well that Emile wanted me to do more and more work with him. This was after he became President and Director of the Institute after the departure of Art Robinson, and that led to kind of a long collaboration with Emile that culminated with my appointment as Co-Director of the Laboratory for Research and Gene Regulation in the mid-1980s. Emile at that time was very interested in cancer metastasis and what genes and proteins were involved in the development of that phenotype, because many people who suffer and die from cancer will die from metastatic involvement even if the primary tumor is surgically treated or treated successfully with radiation and chemotherapy. It is often not possible to kill all the metastatic cells that can move through the lymph system or through the blood system and colonize other tissues. So Emile was very interested in that, and we set up a program at the Institute to use a technique called two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to profile proteins present in tumor cells, metastatic tumor cells, and also normal tissue to look for proteins, and therefore genes, that might be involved in the development of this phenotype. And I think Emile had an idea at that time that these might be regulatory proteins, which would be present in very small amounts in cells.

SL: It was a multi-year affair. It was very distracting to all involved, a very expensive proposition. There were lots of suits, of course, at that time. I didn't really involve myself in any of that because I had no administrative functions, so I was just happy doing my research and not worrying about what was going on in the legal realm or the administrative hierarchy of the Institute. But looking back at these documents retrospectively, it's clear that people were completely consumed with those legal issues because when these sorts of charges are made and suits are filled, you really have to do the best you can to protect the organization. That means hiring good attorneys and getting into the details of all the issues and countless depositions and document analyses, and it's all very tedious and very expensive. In a way, it's also quite fascinating because jurisprudence is a very interesting legal game that gets played, and it's interesting to see how the strategies evolve and how the players behave. But it can be incredibly distracting if your main goal is to carry out research.

We also used a number of rooms there for paper storage. We had had problems with the roof leaking in that facility that actually led to a lawsuit with the landlord, and a lot of the paper that had been stored in that facility was ruined because the roof leaked and the paper was damaged by water and just thrown out. And because it was damaged, there wasn't any attempt to really examine it carefully. I am reconstructing that, I don't know that for sure, but I do know because I did see it with my own eyes, a lot of paper destroyed by water. That was a reasonable explanation of what had happened to Art's research material. My understanding was that it had been stored up there since there wasn't any room to really keep it in the 440 Page Mill Road facility, if indeed it had been kept that long. If it was at Porter Drive, it was probably destroyed by a leaking roof that, as I said, led to litigation with the landlord because the landlord wasn't quick in repairing the roof, unfortunately. So Art did not take that news very well and in a way I can sympathize with him because that work represented a significant percent of his life's work, but that's the way it is. The material was gone, it was probably destroyed, and there was nothing to give him. But he was unwilling to accept that explanation and believed, for whatever reason obscure to me, that I must be hiding this material or lying to him. [0:40:03]

SL: Pauling really liked Ewan Cameron; I think he had a very deep feeling for Ewan Cameron. And despite the fact that Cameron smoked, Pauling was apparently willing to completely overlook that, and Pauling felt very strongly about smoking. I remember seeing letters that were unopened in Dorothy Munro's office because they smelled of cigarette smoke and Pauling refused to handle them. That didn't seem to bother him so much about Ewan Cameron though and they were great colleagues and I think they enjoyed each other's company quite a lot. And Cameron regaled us with stories, my girlfriend and me, about Pauling's first visit to Scotland, I didn't mention this in the last talk did I?

SL: Well, there was much more square footage available to us in that building. The building itself was pretty shabby compared to the nice office building that we left in Menlo Park. As I said, it was a cinderblock construction, kind of an ugly building, really nothing great to look at. Definitely not a showcase building, but it was functional and the offices were fine and we were able to carry out the scientific work, so that was fine. It suited us at the time. And we moved everything ourselves. Alan Sheets, who was a biochemist working at the Institute, his father had been a professional mover in Idaho and Alan had spent a lot of his boyhood years and college years doing summer jobs moving for his father's company, so he really knew about moving equipment. Alan really coordinated our move from one facility to the other. We rented a bunch of big trucks, hand trucks, and blankets, and all the other material we needed to move and did it ourselves. Saved a lot of money.

SL: I think some people were aware of Sasakawa's controversial history in Japan; I was aware that he had made some fortune from motorboat racing in Japan, that didn't really bother me much. I wasn't that familiar with some of the other accusations levied against him at the time. I think that the magnitude of the gift from the Sasakawa foundation affected what we were able to do at the Institute so dramatically that most people chose to just accept the money, which I believe was about $500,000 a year for ten years. A lot of that focused on aging research, and we had a Sasakawa Aging Research Laboratory set up at Porter Drive. When Sasakawa and his entourage would visit the Institute, it was always in a long line of black limousines and many, many people in dark suits would always accompany him. So my casual observation was that he seemed to be a pretty important figure and very wealthy, but I didn't know much about him. I met him once and had some subsequent communication with his son and other functionaries at the foundation much later. But I wasn't privy to any interactions that took place between Pauling and Sasakawa.


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