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Leslie Orgel Papers
MSS 0176  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Orgel, Leslie E.
    Title: Leslie Orgel Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1960 - 1991
    Extent: 16.40 linear feet (39 archives boxes and 1 oversize file folder)
    Abstract: Papers of Leslie Orgel, chemist, molecular biologist and Senior Fellow and Research Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he directs the Chemical Evolution Laboratory. Orgel's research interests include nucleic acid chemistry, molecular evolution, prebiotic chemistry, and problems related to the origin of life. The bulk of the papers dates from 1964 to 1991 and includes correspondence, journal articles, conference and meeting material, contracts and grants, subject files, Salk Institute administrative files, and referee reports. The papers are arranged in eight series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) CONTRACTS, GRANTS AND PROPOSALS, 5) CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, 6) SUBJECT FILES, 7) SALK INSTITUTE, and 8) REFEREE REPORTS.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0176
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English

    Access

    Referee reports in boxes 37, 38, and 39 are restricted until the death of Leslie Orgel.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Leslie Orgel Papers, MSS 0176. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Biography

    Leslie Eleazer Orgel was born in London, England, on January 12, 1927. He received his B.A. in chemistry with first class honors from Oxford university in 1949. In 1950 he was elected a Fellow of Magdalen College and in 1951 was awarded his Ph.D in chemistry at Oxford.
    Orgel started his career as a theoretical inorganic chemist and continued his studies in this field at Oxford, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. In 1955 he joined the chemistry department at Cambridge university.
    There he did work in transition metal chemistry, published articles and wrote a textbook entitled TRANSITION METAL CHEMISTRY: LIGAND FIELD THEORY (1960).
    In 1964 Orgel was appointed Senior Fellow and Research Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he directs the Chemical Evolution Laboratory. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and he is one of five principal investigators in the NASA-sponsored NSCORT program in exobiology. Orgel also participated in NASA's Viking Mars Lander Program as a member of the Molecular Analysis Team that designed the gas chromatography mass spectrometer instrument.
    Orgel's work in the Chemical Evolution Laboratory is in nucleotide chemistry and is mainly concerned with non-enzymatic polymerization reactions that depend on the formation of double-helical complexes between a preformed polynucleotide template and one or more complementary mononucleotide or polynucleotide substrates. In the context of chemical evolution, selected templates are employed to facilitate synthesis of complementary RNA sequences. In other work, oligonucleotide sequences are used to direct reactive molecules (warheads) to a complementary target DNA, so as to cleave a crosslink to the target at a predetermined position. Methods for crosslinking transcription factors irreversibly to their DNA recognition sequences are also being developed. His NASA-sponsored research focuses on the catalysis of nucleic acid replication by mineral surfaces.
    Orgel wrote THE ORIGINS OF LIFE: MOLECULES AND NATURAL SELECTION (1970)
    and co-authored, with Stanley Miller, THE ORIGINS OF LIFE ON THE EARTH (1974). He has published over three hundred articles in his research areas.
    Orgel's contributions have been recognized throughout his career. In Britain he was awarded the Harrison Prize in 1957 for his work in inorganic chemistry and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1962. In the United States he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971, the Evans Award from Ohio State University in 1975, and the H.C. Urey Medal from the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1990.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Leslie Orgel Papers document research in nucleic acid chemistry and molecular evolution conducted between 1964 and 1991 at the Chemical Evolution Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The papers contain correspondence, manuscripts of Orgel's books and journal articles, grants and proposals, conference and meeting material, subject files, Salk Institute files, and referee reports written by Orgel.
    The papers are arranged in eight series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) CONTRACTS, GRANTS AND PROPOSALS, 5) CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, 6) SUBJECT FILES, 7) SALK INSTITUTE, and 8) REFEREE REPORTS.
    SERIES 1: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
    Arranged alphabetically, the BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL series contains Orgel's annotated wall calendars, newspaper clippings and his application for naturalization as a U.S. citizen.
    SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in four subseries: A) Outgoing Chronological Files, B) General, C) Scientific, and D) Personal.
    A) The Outgoing Chronological Files subseries contains copies of outgoing letters (1964-1991).
    B) The General subseries contains correspondence associated with routine laboratory business: letters of inquiry regarding possible employment, correspondence with suppliers, requests for visits, and cordial correspondence. In most cases, the incoming letters are accompanied by outgoing replies. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.
    C) The Scientific subseries includes correspondence with colleagues and other scientists regarding scientific and technical issues. The materials are arranged alphabetically by author. Prominent correspondents include F.H.C. Crick, Robin Holliday, Jean-Michel Labouygues, Stanley Miller, Carl Sagan, S.A. Seleznev, and Eugene Wigner.
    D) The Personal subseries includes letters to and from friends and correspondence related to personal interests, travel plans and projects.
    SERIES 3: WRITINGS
    The WRITINGS series is organized in two subseries: A) Published, and B) Unpublished.
    A) The Numbered Publications subseries, arranged numerically, largely contains research articles and begins with Orgel's numbered chronological list of publications. The folders contain drafts, final versions, correspondence, redacted referee reports, and reprints. The subseries contains 259 of the 302 listed titles, including the draft and correspondence for his textbook entitled TRANSITION METAL CHEMISTRY: LIGAND FIELD THEORY (1960), the only representative from his work while in England. Also included are materials for his other two books, THE ORIGINS OF LIFE: MOLECULES AND NATURAL SELECTION (1973) and, THE ORIGINS OF LIFE ON THE EARTH (1974) with Stanley L. Miller. Of particular interest are Orgel's files for two collaborative articles with Francis Crick, "Directed Panspermia" (#137) and "Selfish DNA: The Ultimate Parasite" (#186), which contain abundant correspondence.
    B) The Unpublished subseries contains titles that do not appear on Orgel's publications list.
    SERIES 4: CONTRACTS, GRANTS AND PROPOSALS
    The series is arranged by sponsoring agency in four subseries: A) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), B) National Institutes of Health (NIH), C) National Science Foundation (NSF), and D) U.S. Army. Within each subseries the materials are arranged chronologically and, in most cases, include a copy of the proposal or contract, correspondence and summary budget information. The NASA series reflects the development of Orgel's long-term research grant entitled "Models for the Generation of Prebiotic Condensing Agents" and his participation in planning for the 1975 Viking Mars Lander mission.
    SERIES 5: CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS
    The CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS series in arranged chronologically and begins with several summary lists of meetings that Orgel attended. The conference materials include programs, speaker lists and correspondence.
    SERIES 6: SUBJECT FILES
    The SUBJECT FILES series begins with material associated with Orgel's research interest on the topic of aging, including drafts of a planned, but never published, book written in collaboration with British colleague Robin Holliday, and correspondence files arranged chronologically. Also included are grant files and material reflecting the Salk Institute's research and presentations on aging.
    The remaining subject files contain material about several colleagues and correspondence related to a planned book about the history of the groundbreaking group of RNA researchers who belonged to the RNATIECLUB, a mid-1950's society with twenty members dedicated to unraveling the genetic code. Included are photocopies of correspondence (1953-1962) from George Gamow to James Watson and Alexander Rich.
    SERIES 7: SALK INSTITUTE
    The SALK INSTITUTE series contains files that document Orgel's association and interaction with the Salk Institute and is arranged in six subseries: A) Chemical Evolution Laboratory, B) Faculty, C) Fellows, D) General, E) Salk Memoranda, and F) Salk Institute Biotechnology/Industrial Associates (SIBIA). Included are numerous reports; memoranda with Jacob Bronowski, Frederic De Hoffman and Edwin Lennox; and, files related to the commercial development of biotechnology research by Orgel and his associates.
    SERIES 8: REFEREE REPORTS
    The REFEREE REPORTS series contains referee reports by Orgel arranged alphabetically by title of journal or name of agency. Orgel was a referee for BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA, BIOINORGANIC CHEMISTRY, the JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR EVOLUTION, the JOURNAL OF THEORETICAL BIOLOGY, and the National Science Foundation.
    Referee reports are restricted until the death of Leslie Orgel.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Orgel, Leslie E. -- Archives
    Salk Institute for Biological Studies. -- Chemical Evolution Laboratory
    Salk Institute for Biological Studies -- Faculty
    Journal of Theoretical Biology Journal of Molecular Evolution
    Chemistry, Inorganic
    Chemists -- Biography
    Ligand field theory
    Valence (Theoretical chemistry)
    Life -- Origin
    Molecular evolution
    Aging

    Contributors

    Orgel, Leslie E. -- Origins of life
    Orgel, Leslie E. -- Introduction to transition-metal chemistry
    Gamow, George, 1904-1968, -- correspondent
    Arrhenius, Gustaf, -- correspondent
    Kornberg, Arthur, 1918- -- correspondent
    Crick, Francis, 1916- -- correspondent
    Holliday, R. -- (Robin), 1932- -- correspondent
    Labouygues, Jean-Michel, -- correspondent
    Miller, Stanley L., 1930- -- correspondent
    Sagan, Carl, 1934- -- correspondent
    Selezne, S. A., -- correspondent
    Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902- -- correspondent