What’s With All Those Names? The Pauling Chalkboard, Part II

Linus Pauling in a laboratory at his institute, 1975.

(Part 2 of 3)

There are seventy-six names on Pauling’s chalkboard that stretch across its face in a nearly symmetrical series of columns. The people listed span a diverse range of functions and ages, and were involved at multiple intervals of Linus Pauling’s life.

A majority of the people can be sectioned off into three main categories:  administrative and clerical staff at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, operators who handled the procedural aspects of the Institute’s work, and other researchers who shared the interests and objectives of Pauling and the Institute. Though these categories explain a majority of the names on the board, further inspection reveals complexities and intricacies within and among the categories themselves. Additional names on the board have more unique significance, while the meaning of still others can only be guessed at.


In terms of administration, there are only a few known names. This is likely due to the close interaction that Pauling, as president and later chairman of the Institute’s board, maintained with administrators within the Institute. The known names include Corrine Gorham, who was a purchasing agent and member of the administrative staff, as well as Walt Davenport and Paul Buck, both early managers at the Institute.


The Institute was using mass spectrometers for much of its analytical work. A mass spectrometer is a device that converts molecules into ions in order to measure their characteristics. Many of the names on the board were connected to the use and operation of mass spectrometers. The board includes groupings for operators, assistants to operators, researchers, and even a patent holder for the devices.

There are also a great number of names that were specifically involved with the Institute’s metabolite profiling program. Generally speaking, the metabolite profiling program sought to analyze the metabolic fate of vitamin C administered to test patients. The Institute’s program specifically focused upon analysis of data collected through mass spectrometry of urine and blood samples. Included on the board are engineers involved in the project,  as well as people like Steve Burbeck, of the computer division, who developed specialized software for metabolite and protein analysis. Pauling also listed a number of specialists such as Dr. Louis Malter, who was an expert in high-vacuum systems.

Other specialists listed on the board, like Koichi Miyashita and Stuart McGuire, were involved more generally with vitamin C experiments. Likewise, a number of additional names were connected generally to work that was being done with animals. One example is Leonard McPherson, who was an engineer on several projects and developed a sensory apparatus for use in fish toxicology experiments. Pauling also listed an orthomolecular veterinarian and a Dr. Soave, who was a director of the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine at Stanford University, and who likely served as a veterinary consultant.

The name Prof. C. G. Enke is listed in one of the first columns on the board.  Enke is a co-owner of a patent for a Tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer used for selected ion fragmentation studies – a person that Pauling likely kept in mind as a potential source for the Institute’s mass spectrometers.

Pauling's chalkboard, as preserved in the OSU Libraries Special Collections.


In terms of related research, Pauling listed several applicable yet diverse professionals. On his board one finds the names of professors, private sector developers, specialized medical professionals, and researchers from other institutes and societies.

Many of the professors listed on the board have written a number of articles that directly and indirectly related to the Institute’s work. The research topics range from epidemiology, cellular activity and hepatology, to aging, the immune system and studies of various forms of cancer.

A few of the names listed belong to people who were once research assistants for the Institute. These researchers went on to complete their doctoral studies and are now doing relevant work at universities around the world.

Among the listed researchers outside of the Institute, there are a number of people associated with many well-known foundations and organizations. Among the names on the board, one can find individuals affiliated with the American Cancer Society, the Institute of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging.

Linus Pauling, 1980s.


Several names on the board might fall under the category of “Assorted.”  These include philanthropists, correspondents and other individuals loosely connected to the interests of the Institute.

A box with two names and an abbreviation appear within one of the larger columns of names. The abbreviation, Gy topical, likely references a project that the Institute was working on, the focus of which was the topical application of vitamin C to psoriasis patients.

Dr. David Rytand is listed on the top of the board – he is an author who made significant contributions to the literature on physician Thomas Addis. Addis is, among other achievements, credited with having successfully treated Linus Pauling for nephritis, a renal condition, using a method that was far outside of the mainstream of medical thought at the time. The radical treatment program likely saved Pauling’s life, for which Pauling always understandably felt indebted.  In 1994 an article on Addis, struggled over for several years by Pauling and his co-author Kevin Lemley, was published in Biographical Memoirs.  It seems likely that Pauling would have consulted with Rytand in his development of the piece.

The last three names on the board, ending with Harald von Troschke, are a short list of German television interviewers. The date that accompanies them is seven years later than an initial interview of Pauling conducted by von Troschke in May 1976. In this interview, Pauling told von Troschke:

I think that it is the duty of scientists to help their fellow citizens to understand the problems, and to give them the benefit of their own knowledge about the scientific aspects of the problems. In addition, however, to this work of helping to educate their fellow citizens, scientists have, I think, the obligation to express their own opinions, in order to help their fellow citizens.

The names on the board that couldn’t be identified with certainty probably share some of the characteristics and context of most of the known names. It is very likely as well that certain of the unknown names were legal aides and representatives from the various points during which Pauling was involved in legal actions.  One can only guess as to the significance of a handful of additional names – some of them were important to Pauling in ways that likely will never be discerned.


2 Responses

  1. […] profiling program carried out for some time at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. As mentioned in part II of this series, a large number of names on the board were involved with the metabolic profiling program, and this […]

  2. […] talk more about the functions of Pauling’s chalkboard in parts two and three of this […]

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