Dunn, L. C. (Leslie Clarence), 1893-1974

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Geneticist.

From the description of Reminiscences of Leslie Clarence Dunn : oral history, 1960. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309732431

Leslie C. Dunn was a geneticist.

From the description of Papers, [ca. 1920]-1974. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122523491

Papers of James V. Neel, pioneering human population geneticist and professor in the Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School. Curt Stern's first graduate student at the University of Rochester, and a post-doctoral student under Theodosius Dobzhansky, Neel began his career as a Drosophila geneticist, but after taking his first professional appointment as an assistant professor at Dartmouth, decided to alter his course into human genetics. Reasoning that he needed a solid medical education to complement his genetical training, he returned to Rochester in 1942 to study for an MD.

Like all medical students during the Second World War, Neel was inducted into military service. Rochester was the base for studies in radiation biology associated with the Manhattan Project, and at the end of the war, with Neel still in the military, a chance friendship with the adjutant to the head of the project resulted in Neel's appointment to help organize a genetical survey of the atomic bomb survivors. In 1946-1947, Neel lived in Hiroshima, organizing this project, part of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Committee (ABCC), and he maintained a close connection to the study until his death. His work in Japan mushroomed, too, into a series of related projects into the biology and genetics of consanguinity, among other topics.

While at Rochester, Neel also began to establish a name for himself in other areas of human genetics. As a resident at Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital, Neel encountered a case of thalassemia, and reading the medical literature, he became convinced that it was a genetic recessive disease. Over a span of five years, he delineated the genetic basis of haemoglobin diseases - first thalassemia, then sickle cell disease - in the process, helping to precipitate the revolution in biochemical genetics of the 1950s through 1970s. Neel's work also encompassed the evolutionary implications for these diseases, implanting balanced polymorphism and heterozygote advantage into the vocabularies of evolutionary biologists. Neel's studies of thalassemia and sickle cell disease were recognized with the receipt of the Lasker Award in 1955.

In the late 1950s, Neel entered into a third major set of projects, turning to extensive field studies in population genetics. Recognizing that the number of human populations isolated from modern medicines and modern technology was rapidly dwindling, Neel embarked on an ambitious genetic survey of the comparatively "primitive" Xavante of Brazil and, later, the Yanomamo of the Brazilian-Venezuelan borderlands. These studies, carried out over the course of more than a decade, and involving even longer spans of laboratory work, constitute the first and most comprehensive studies of human population and breeding structure and genetic diseases among "primitive" peoples. Dr. Neel died in February, 2000.

From the guide to the James V. Neel, papers, ca. 1939-1999, Circa 1939-1999, (American Philosophical Society)

L.C. Dunn was a seminal figure in the 20th century emergence of developmental genetics. His T-locus work with the mouse established a number of important genetic principles, including ideas of gene interaction, the distribution of alleles in wild populations, and the factors that influence fertility, and his influence spread, in part, through his widely used genetics textbook, Principles of Genetics (N.Y.: McGraw Hill, 1925), written in collaboration with Edmund Ware Sinnott (and later Theodosius Dobzhansky). Other significant works authored or co-authored by Dunn include Heredity, Race and Society (1946), and A Short History of Genetics (1965).

Leslie Clarence Dunn was born in Buffalo, New York in 1893, the son of Clarence Leslie and Mary Eliza (Booth) Dunn. At Dartmouth College from 1911-1915, he applied himself to the study of zoology under John H. Gerould, with whom he maintained life-long ties. It was through Gerould that he obtained a copy of T.H. Morgan's Heredity and Sex in 1914, a book that significantly influenced the course of Dunn's professional career. Smitten with genetics, after graduating from Dartmouth, Dunn applied to study under Morgan at Columbia University, but was turned away from the already overcrowded fly lab. Instead, he took an assistantship to work with William E. Castle at Harvard, where he was assigned charge of the laboratory for breeding Drosophila . His first significant work was a study of sex-linked genes in Drosophila, but when his results were "scooped" by a student of Morgan, he turned to work on linked genes in mice and rats. He published eight papers on rodent genetics between 1916 and 1921, including his dissertation Linkage in Mice and Rats (1920).

Dunn's graduate work was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, during which he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Force in France. He married Louise Porter, a Smith College graduate, in 1918, with whom he had two sons, Robert Leslie (b.1921) and Stephen Porter (b.1928).

After his release from the Army, Dunn's first professional position was serving as poultry geneticist at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Storrs, Connecticut. His time there (1920-1928) was productive, resulting in over forty papers on poultry genetics as well as the first edition of Principles of Genetics . One of the most widely used genetics textbooks of its time, it went into five editions and was translated into numerous foreign languages.

In 1929, Dunn was tapped by Columbia to fill the post vacated by Morgan, who had departed for the California Institute of Technology. As a full professor in the Zoology Department, Dunn quickly demonstrated his abilities as a teacher as well as a researcher, mentoring Simone Gluecksohn-Waelsch and Dorothea Bennett, among many others.

Because life in the heart of New York City precluded large-scale research projects on poultry, Dunn revived his research on rodents and fruit flies, although he continued to keep hand in poultry, working in concert with Walter Landauer at Storrs. Initially, Dunn's mouse work at Columbia focussed on the problem of the inheritance of pigmentation, but his interest in congenital abnormalities soon led him to branch out into a study of lethal and semi-lethal mutants in research animals and compare them to similar conditions in humans. His work on T-locus mutants occupied over forty years and established him as a leader in developmental genetics. His research also verged on population genetics: he studied colonies of mice in both the laboratory and the field, establishing the principle that gametic selection could be even more powerful than natural selection.

Possessed of a strong social conscience honed by association with his fellow Columbians Theodosius Dobzhansky and Franz Boas, Dunn took an active interest in human genetics and its social implications. During the 1920s and 1930s, he spoke out against the misapplication of genetics to justify mistreatment of oppressed groups of people, including blacks and Jews. He established an Institute for the Study of Human Variation at Columbia in the 1950s. Although the Institute was short-lived, several key research projects resulted from it, including Dunn's "The Jewish Community in Rome." The Institute also spawned a number of students who have made important contributions to human genetics, including R. H. Osborne and W. S. Pollitzer.

In 1946, Dunn and Theodosius Dobzhansky collaborated on Heredity, Race, and Society, an immensely important book that cast a genetist's eye on the race problem in America. Taking cues from the work of Ashley Montagu, Franz Boas, and others, the work was an important study of racial variation, but also a major statement on the vexing question coopted by eugenicists of the relationship between nature and nurture. "We come into the world," they wrote, "as a bundle of possibilities bequeathed to us by our parents and other ancestors. Our nurture comes from the world about us. What happens to the nurture that comes in depends, however, on the nature that receives it." Dunn and Dobzhansky concluded that nature and nurture were inseparably intertwined and integral to the shaping of human capacities, rendering the dichotomy between them not only misleading, but fundamentally wrong. In 1951 Dunn was selected to write the UNESCO report Race and Biology, which carried this point further.

Dunn's personal friendships with scientists and their families from around the world often served as a springboard into other activities. During a tour of Europe in 1927, for example, Dunn visited Russia as the guest of A.S. Serebrovsky. As a result of the experience, Dunn became a founder and active member of the American-Soviet Friendship Council and, during World War II, was the president of the American-Soviet Science Society. Deeply disturbed by the rise of Nazism, Dunn became an active member of the Emergency Committee for German Scholars (later called the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Scholars) in 1933, helping refugee scholars to relocate in American. Not surprisingly, Dunn's interest in international collaboration brought him under severe criticism. The organizations in which he took part were deemed subversive in the reactionary environment of the late 1940s and 1950s, and Dunn himself was accused of being a Communist.

Dunn's internationalism and interest in Russian science drew him into the Lysenko controversy of the 1950s. The "dictator" of Soviet biology during the Stalinist era and beyond, Lysenko espoused eccentric ideas about agriculture and genetics, and led a wholesale assault on modern genetics theories. The Russian language edition of Dunn's Principles of Genetics had sold more copies in Russian in the 1930s than the English original, however Lysenko banned the book.

Dunn pursued his interest in genetics to the end of his life. When he retired from Columbia in 1962, he was granted emeritus status and set up a "mouse lab" to continue work in collaboration with his former student, Dorothea Bennett. Toward the end of his life he developed an interest in the history of science, writing A Short History of Genetics in 1965. The donation of his papers to the American Philosophical Society helped to establish the APS archives as a premier facility for the study of the history of genetics.

Dunn was a member of the American Philosophical Society (1943), the National Academy of Sciences (1943), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, and the Italian Academia Pataviana. He was a founder of the Genetics Society of America, its President in 1932, and managing editor of its journal, Genetics, from 1935 to 1940. He was also a member of the American Society of Naturalists, its President in 1960, and editor of its journal The American Naturalist, from 1951 to 1960. He was a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, and its President in 1961. He also was a visiting professor at the Genetics Institute of the University of Oslo, Norway in 1934-35, at the Instituto Superiore de Sanita, Rome, in 1953-54, and at University College, London in 1960-61.

From the guide to the L. C. Dunn Papers, ca. 1920-1974, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Paul Kammerer Papers, 1910-1972, 1910-1972 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Dunn, L. C. (Leslie Clarence), 1893-1974. Papers, [ca. 1920]-1974. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1668-1983, Bulk, 1750-1850, 1668-1983 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf James V. Neel, papers, ca. 1939-1999, Circa 1939-1999 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Dunn, L. C. (Leslie Clarence), 1893-1974. Reminiscences of Leslie Clarence Dunn : oral history, 1960. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf L. C. Dunn Papers, ca. 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn William E. Castle Papers, Bulk, 1950-1961, 1930-1961 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Curt Stern Papers, 1907-1981 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Conway Zirkle Collection, 1948-1966 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn MacDowell, E. Carleton (Edwin Carleton), 1887-1973. Edwin Carleton MacDowell papers, 1945-1950. Cornell University Library
referencedIn L. C. Dunn Papers, ca. 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Genetics Society of America Records, 1921-1984 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adler, Cyrus person
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873 person
associatedWith American-Soviet Friendship Council. corporateBody
associatedWith American-Soviet Science Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Appleget, Thomas B. person
associatedWith Aydelotte, Frank, 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Bagster-Collins, E. W. person
associatedWith Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820 person
associatedWith Beck, Guido, 1903-1988 person
associatedWith Benison, Saul, person
associatedWith Billikopf, Jacob person
associatedWith Bjerknes, Kristian Bonnevie, 1901- person
associatedWith Bjerknes, Kristine Bonnevie, 1901- . person
associatedWith Blakeslee, Albert Francis, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. person
associatedWith Bodine, J. H. person
associatedWith Bonnevie, Kristine person
associatedWith Boschwitz, Carl person
associatedWith Brakeley, George A. person
associatedWith Brand, Theodor von person
associatedWith Brandt, Walter person
associatedWith Breit, G. person
associatedWith Bridges, Calvin B., 1889-1938. person
associatedWith Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974 person
associatedWith Butler, Nicholas Murray person
associatedWith Carrel, Alexis, 1873-1944. person
associatedWith Caspari, Ernst Wolfgang, 1909- . person
associatedWith Castle, William E. (William Ernest), 1867-1962. person
associatedWith Cattell, J. McKeen person
associatedWith Chamberlain, Joseph P. person
associatedWith Clark, Hans T. person
associatedWith Coffin, Henry Sloane person
associatedWith Cohn, Alfred E. (Alfred Einstein), 1879-1957. person
associatedWith Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology person
associatedWith Cole, Leon J. person
associatedWith Columbia University. corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia University. Department of Zoology person
associatedWith Compton, K. T., (Karl Taylor), 1887-1954 person
associatedWith Conant, James Bryant, 1893-1978 person
associatedWith Cooper, Thomas, 1759-1839 person
associatedWith Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981 person
associatedWith Coues, Elliott, 1842-1899 person
associatedWith Courant, R. person
associatedWith Cowdry, E. V., (Edmund Vincent), 1888-1975 person
associatedWith Cowley, Malcolm person
associatedWith Crew, F. A. E. person
associatedWith Cuvier, Georges, Baron, 1769-1832 person
associatedWith Dahlberg, Gandhi person
associatedWith Dahlberg, Gunnar, b. 1893. person
associatedWith Dahlberg, Ragna person
associatedWith Dahlberg, Stina person
associatedWith Danforth, Charles H. b. 1876. person
associatedWith Darlington, William, 1782-1863 person
associatedWith Dartmouth College corporateBody
associatedWith Davenport, Charles B. person
associatedWith David, Paul R., 1907- . person
associatedWith Davis, Watson person
associatedWith Delbruck, Max person
associatedWith Demerec, M. (Milislav), 1895-1966. person
associatedWith Dewey, John, 1859-1952 person
associatedWith Dobzhansky, Theodosius, 1900-1975. person
associatedWith Dodge, M. Hardley person
associatedWith Drury, Betty person
associatedWith Duggan, Stephen P. person
associatedWith Dunn, L. C. person
associatedWith Dunn, S. P. person
associatedWith Dunn, Stephen person
associatedWith Ebsen, Annette person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Emergency Committee.. . Columbia University person
associatedWith Emergency Committee.. . Foreign Scholars, Executive Committee person
associatedWith Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars. corporateBody
associatedWith Ephrussi, Boris, 1901- . person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Fackenthal, Frank Diehl, 1883-1968 person
associatedWith Farmer-Loeb, L. person
associatedWith Farrand, Livingston, 1867-1939 person
associatedWith Fergensen, A. C. person
associatedWith Fields, Harold person
associatedWith Fisher, Ronald Aylmer, Sir, 1890-1962. person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Flexner, Bernard (Esq.) person
associatedWith Flynn, Thomas F (Rev.) person
associatedWith Friedrichs, Kurt person
associatedWith Friess, Horace L. person
associatedWith Fruton, Joseph S., (Joseph Stewart), 1912- person
associatedWith Genetics Society of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith Gentzler, W. Emerson person
associatedWith Geyer-Duszynska, Irene, 1924- . person
associatedWith Goldschmidt, Richard person
associatedWith Goldschmidt, Richard, 1878-1958. person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Gumbel, Emil J. person
associatedWith Gumbel, Emil Julius, 1891-. person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Hare, George Harrison person
associatedWith Harrison, R. G. person
associatedWith Harrison, Ross G., (Ross Granville), 1870-1959 person
associatedWith Haskell, Robert H. person
associatedWith Hayden, P. M. person
associatedWith Hayes, Carlton J. person
associatedWith Hecht, Selig person
associatedWith Heilbronn, (?) person
associatedWith Horckheimer, Max person
associatedWith Hurst, Sandy L. person
associatedWith Huskins, C. L. person
associatedWith Huxley, Julian, 1887-1975. person
associatedWith Hyman, J. C. person
associatedWith Iltis, Hugo person
associatedWith Iltis, Hugo, 1925- . person
associatedWith Ivanyi, Pavol. person
associatedWith Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Me.) corporateBody
associatedWith Jaquith, H. C. person
associatedWith Jayne, Horace H. F. person
associatedWith Jennings, H. S. (Herbert Spencer), 1868-1947. person
associatedWith Jensen, Arthur Robert person
associatedWith Jobling, James W. person
associatedWith Johnson, Alvin person
associatedWith Jollas, Victor person
associatedWith Jollas, Victor. person
associatedWith Kammerer, Paul, 1880-1926 person
associatedWith KC6hler, Wolfgang person
associatedWith Kotschnig, Walter person
associatedWith Kraus, Erik Johannes person
associatedWith Lambert, Robert A. person
associatedWith LaMer, Victor K. person
associatedWith Landauer, Walter person
associatedWith Landauer, Walter, 1896- person
associatedWith Landsteiner, Karl, 1868-1943. person
associatedWith Lehmann-Hartleben, K. person
associatedWith Levy, Fritz person
associatedWith Lewontin, Richard C., 1929-. person
associatedWith Liebesny, Herbert person
associatedWith Liebowitz person
associatedWith Lucke, Charles E. person
associatedWith Luria, Salvador person
associatedWith Lynd, Robert person
associatedWith Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich, 1898-1976 person
associatedWith MacDowell, E. Carleton (Edwin Carleton), 1887-1973. person
associatedWith MacIver, Robert M. person
associatedWith Mark, H. person
associatedWith Mayr, Ernst person
associatedWith McClintock, Barbara person
associatedWith McCracken, Charles C. person
associatedWith McGregor, J. H. person
associatedWith Mitchell, Wesley C. person
associatedWith Mittonzwey, Kuno person
associatedWith Mohr, Otto Louis, 1886- person
associatedWith Mohr, Tove person
associatedWith Mohr, Tove. person
associatedWith Montague, W. P. person
associatedWith Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. person
associatedWith Muller, H. J. (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967. person
associatedWith Murrow, Edward R. person
associatedWith Nachtsheim, Hans, 1890-1979 person
associatedWith National Research Council. Committee on Experimental Animals and Plants. corporateBody
associatedWith Neel, James V., (James Van Gundia), 1915-2000 person
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Newton, J. Earle person
associatedWith Painter, T. S. person
associatedWith Paneth, F. person
associatedWith Parker, G. H. person
associatedWith Park, Marion person
associatedWith Pearl, Raymond, 1879-1940 person
associatedWith Pegram, George B. person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Pope, Arthur Upham person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Reilly, M. person
associatedWith Riddle, Oscar person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Ritt, J. H. person
associatedWith Rosenberg, Jans person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813 person
associatedWith Sachs, Bernard person
associatedWith Scheerer, Martin person
associatedWith Schneider, Herbert W. person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Schultz, Jack person
associatedWith Seligman, Edwin R. A. person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
associatedWith Simha, Robert person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stadler, L. J. person
associatedWith Staebel, (Dr.) person
associatedWith Stein, Fred M. person
associatedWith Stern, Curt person
associatedWith Stern, Curt, 1902-1981 person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Straus, Roger person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith Trelease, Herbert W. person
associatedWith Warburg, Felix M. person
associatedWith Warden, C. J. person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865 person
associatedWith Waugh, Albert E. person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
associatedWith Weaver, Warren person
associatedWith Weissenberg, R. person
associatedWith Weissenberg, Richard person
associatedWith Westerman, W. L. person
associatedWith Whyte, John person
associatedWith Willier, Benjamin H. person
associatedWith Wilson, Edwin Bidwell, 1879-1964. person
associatedWith Witschi, Emil person
associatedWith Wright, Sewall person
associatedWith Zerner, Marianne person
associatedWith Zirkle, Conway, 1895-1972 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Italy
Rome
Soviet Union
Subject
Developmental genetics
Plant genetics
Amerindians
Indians of South America--Venezuela
Jews--Population studies
Drosophila--Genetics
Human genetics
Hematology
Genetics--Research
Evolution (Biology)
Population genetics
Human population genetics
Biology, genetics, eugenics
Jews
Heredity
Genetics
Popuation biology
Eugenics
Indians of South America--Brazil
Geneticists
Jews--Rome
Yanomamo Indians
Geneticists--Interviews
Xavante Indians
Drosophila
Poultry--Genetics
Mice--Genetics
Biology
Political refugees--United States
Science and state
Consanguinity
Environmental health
Race, race relations, racism
Science and politics
Atmospheric radiation
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1893-11-02

Death 1974-03-19

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6nw1d8m

Ark ID: w6nw1d8m

SNAC ID: 25824548