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The Symposia, 1933 — 2003

1967:   Antibodies, Vol. XXXII

Organizer: John Cairns

Table of Contents

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Having held our previous symposium on the Genetic Code, it seemed natural to turn directly from that to the subject of Antibodies. The code epitomizes living systems at their most inflexible; not only is the same method of protein synthesis used throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, but it seems that even the same language is spoken by all living things. By way of contrast, the formation of specific antibodies denotes extreme versatility. This versatility appears, at first sight, to be in direct conflict with the central dogma of molecular biology which maintains that the primary structure of proteins is encoded in nucleic acids, not improvized. Thus the recent deciphering of the genetic code provided a most appropriate background for a symposium on antibodies.

Apart from current events in the microbiological world, this would still have been a suitable year for discussing the mechanism of antibody formation. Sequence analysis of normal and pathological immunoglobulins was providing an ever more detailed picture of the end-product of immunogenesis. And the prospect seemed bright that the mechanism of antibody formation, once the subject for so many unsubstantiated theories, was about to develop its own dogmas.

I am happy

to acknowledge the help of our advisors in preparing the program. In particular, I wish to thank Drs. Gerald Edelman, Stephen Fazekas de St. Groth, Niels Jerne, and Gus Nossal, who bore the brunt of the consultation. The task of assembling this volume has been carried out by our editor, assisted by Harriet D. Hershey and Elspeth Cairns.

The meeting was held from the 1st to the 7th of June, 1967, and was attended by about 300 people, including 40 from outside the United States. As in the past, the program was supported by the National Institutes of Health, United States Public Health Service; the National Science Foundation; the United States Atomic Energy Commission; and the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research (under grant AF-AFOSR-1299-67).

Editor: Leonora Frisch

Jan A. Witkowski

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