Frank Catchpool: Linus started talking one day about sickle cell anemia. And I knew a little bit about it, but not nearly as much as I should
do, and now in retrospect, knew I was dealing with it everyday but not really recognizing it. We had no means of diagnosing
sickle cell anemia at that time in the jungle; we had no lab equipment and so on. But he offered to speak to the doctors and
staff at the hospital. I accepted on my behalf, and persuaded, and a couple of the other doctors readily accepted to talk
And I remember one evening we sat down at the dinner table and he gave a very neat three-quarter hour lecture on sickle cell
anemia - how it could be diagnosed, what the nature of the disorder was - and I realized then that this was mostly his own
work. And I have realized then, of course since, that this work alone, as you have probably found out talking to other people,
was a very seminal piece of work in the field. In fact he invented this term "a molecular disease." It was the first disease
of mankind that had ever been described right down to its last molecular detail. I expect Linus has spoken about that. He
gave us a short talk about it, and I began to realize that to make the diagnosis we needed electrophoretic equipment, which
involved stabilized electrical current and so on, which we did not have at the hospital - we had intermittent supplies of
current and so on - but that it could be done.
Later talking with Linus, I said that if you postulate that all genetic mutations, bad genetic mutations, or all diseases
such as leukemia - which, you see, might have been caused by radiation or some background effect which affects us - and you
then increase the background radiation, you could calculate very easily the number of cases of leukemia that could be attributed
to each megaton of atomic weapons exploded. And he looked at me and said "yes, you can indeed," and he said ah, he told me
the number immediately, I don’t remember what it was. Because of his phenomenal memory. He makes rapid calculations.
That’s where I first met him. And then about two years later I was on leave in the United States, and I suddenly remembered
that Linus had offered me a job as a post-doctorate research fellow at Caltech.