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Books, Journals, New Media
August 12, 1998

History of HematologyIntrinsic Factors: William Bosworth Castle and the Development of Hematology and Clinical Investigation at Boston City Hospital Pioneering Hematology: The Research and Treatment of Malignant Blood Disorders—Reflections on a Life's Work

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(6):574-575. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.574-JBK0812-3-1

The Rare Books and Special Collections Department of Harvard University's Countway Library of Medicine has been responsible for a number of volumes related to the history of medicine in Boston and environs. Latest additions are these biographies of Castle and Moloney, eminent hematologists whose careers intersected yet were worlds apart.

First is the story of William B. Castle, his mentors, colleagues, and students during 38 years of remarkable achievement at the Harvard Medical Unit and Thorndike Memorial Laboratory, Boston City Hospital. As son of a Harvard professor of genetics, Castle earned his MD in the mid-1920s from Harvard and spent most of his career affiliated with his alma mater. Mentors included George Minot, Nobel prize winner for the first successful treatment of pernicious anemia, Richard Cabot, originator of the New England Journal of Medicine clinicopathological conferences, and Henry Christian, Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Eminent colleagues included Soma Weiss and Maxwell Finland. It was in elucidating pernicious anemia dynamics that Castle made an early and lasting impact on the physiologic approach to clinical investigation. There is an excitement in going from clinical experience to basic questions that haven't been clearly answered, then pursuing the answers with originality and determination. "Castle's law," according to his followers, states, "There is nothing like fact to stop an argument." His studies elucidated the relationship between achylia gastrica and pernicious anemia. He obtained human gastric juice from normal volunteers after a beefsteak meal, then administered it to pernicious anemia patients, observing the reticulocyte response. Variations on these studies led to 15 nascent publications. He made additional contributions in hematology, including advances in iron deficiency and hemolytic anemias. An informal conversation led to Linus Pauling's discovery of the molecular nature of sickle cell anemia.

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