Talk:Frederick Griffith

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During the early 1900s, the study of genetics began in earnest: the link between Mendel's work and that of cell biologists resulted in the chromosomal theory of inheritance; Garrod proposed the link between genes and "inborn errors of metabolism"; and the question was formed: what is a gene? The answer came from the study of a deadly infectious disease: pneumonia. During the 1920s Franklin Griffith studied the difference between a disease-causing strain of the pneumonia causing bacteria (Streptococcus peumoniae) and a strain that did not cause pneumonia. The pneumonia-causing strain (the S strain) was surrounded by a capsule. The other strain (the R strain) did not have a capsule and also did not cause pneumonia. Fredrick Griffith (1928) was able to induce a nonpathogenic strain of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae to become pathogenic. Griffith referred to a transforming factor that caused the non-pathogenic bacteria to become pathogenic. Griffith injected the different strains of bacteria into mice. The S strain killed the mice; the R strain did not. He further noted that if heat killed S strain was injected into a mouse, it did not cause pneumonia. When he combined heat-killed S with Live R and injected the mixture into a mouse (remember neither alone will kill the mouse) that the mouse developed pneumonia and died. Bacteria recovered from the mouse had a capsule and killed other mice when injected into them!

Hypotheses 1. The dead S strain had been reanimated/resurrected. 2. The Live R had been transformed into Live S by some "transforming factor". Further experiments led Griffith to conclude that number 2 was correct. In 1944, Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty revisited Griffith's experiment and concluded the transforming factor was DNA. Their evidence was strong but not totally conclusive. The then-current favorite for the hereditary material was protein; DNA was not considered by many scientists to be a strong candidate.

§ He concluded that something in the dead virulent cells “transformed” the hereditary material of normally harmless bacteria so that they became killers. § it is the virus’s DNA—not protein—that enters the bacterium to cause infection. Their studies confirmed that DNA contained the virus’s genetic information, which triggered viral replication within the bacteria § This meant that genes existed as physical things which were preserved even after the organism died, and that this genetic material can be transferred from one organism to another while preserving its function.


"Frederick Griffith died holding a page that included formulas that seemed to be a breakthrough, however they were too random to be interpreted. Today the paper has remained in a preservation lab so that one day somebody can make sense of it and hopefully discover something that Griffith wasn't able to complete."

Is this true? I have not been able to find any mention of this elsewhere online, including MSN Encarta's article, and it was added by this user, whose only other contribution is narrative-style vandalism: 23:53, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I've read this elsewhere, but that doesn't make it true. I would not consider Encarta definitive, by the way. I agree with others that this entry should be cleaned up and combined with Frederick Griffith, though I'm not sure in what order. Eperotao 22:31, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Deleted. Tim Vickers (talk) 18:36, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Merge with Fred Griffith[edit]

Yes! They are the same person! Isoxyl 16:40, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Indeed, Fred and Frederick Griffith are one and the same - 'Franklin' Griffith??? Fred/Frederick Griffith was born in 1877, not 1879 (source FreeBMD)--Bsx059 21:04, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

Emphatically yes. Having two biographies of the same person would create confusion.
Sorry, some vandal did a global search and replace Frederick for Franklin, which was kept somehow. But yes, once someone can merge these articles, please do! Isoxyl 22:03, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

These two biographies are the same biography under different names. This is confusing, they should be merged. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:45, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

I think there's no question, but someone needs to do the work! Isoxyl 02:52, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Done. Tim Vickers (talk) 18:36, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, Tim. I didn't really look through it, but if there's anything from the old article that might be useful in this one, we should add it too. Isoxyl (talk) 18:59, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
That's been done, I merged some links and a bit of the introduction. Tim Vickers (talk) 19:31, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! Isoxyl (talk) 01:10, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

A Couple of Indications, on Fred Griffith's Wikipedia Page, that I Believe False[edit]

Hello, TimVickers. Thank you for welcoming me, and presumably for reviewing my contributions. The Wikipedia-introduction links that you gave me will be useful, though I didn't spot how to reply to your message. So I include this reply here as a preface to my points about Fred Griffith's Wikipedia page, points for review by anyone concerned:

I find two remarks that, although I yesterday edited them to refine wording, I don't see specifically referenced and that I believe untrue.

1) The pivotal experiment was done when Griffith was trying to make a vaccine to prevent pneumonia infections in the "Spanish flu" influenza pandemic after World War I, by using two strains of the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium.

I haven't scoured resources specifically to decide this untrue. Yet I don't see it specifically referenced and I don't recall ever reading of Griffith working on vaccine. Fred Griffith "was a medical bacteriologist whose primary and abiding interest, and his life’s work, was the epidemiology of infectious disease. He believed that a proper understanding of epidemiological problems could come only from more detailed and discriminating knowledge"—key word being knowledge—as indicated in the second paragraph of the First Griffith Memorial Lecture in 1966 ["Genetic Transformation: a Retrospective Appreciation:]. I haven't read that whole lecture [whose first page only is available at that link], yet this quote states succinctly what I've read elsewhere of Griffith's endeavors. The only other significant pneumococcal interest that I find of Fred Griffith was of the pathological action of pneumococcus:

"Fred Griffith was a medical officer in the Ministry of Health in London. Working in the pathological laboratory of the Ministry in the period immediately following the First World War, he had been caught up in the same sense of urgency concerning the problem of pneumonia that had motivated other workers, like [Rufus] Cole, [Alphonse] Dochez, [Oswald] Avery, and [Fred] Neufeld. Local medical officers sent him specimens from patients with lobar pneumonia from which he would isolate and type the pneumococci. He accumulated a large number of strains of pneumococci in this way and engaged in a variety of experimental approaches in an attempt to learn more about their behavior as pathogens" [page 65, The Transforming Principle, by Maclyn McCarthy:].

I do, however, see that Martin Dawson, an associate of Oswald Avery, who had confirmed Fred Griffith's findings, merely called the pneumococci suspension, as used in experiments, a vaccine: "...Dawson called this a vaccine for short..." [p 79, The Transforming Principle:]. I haven't read this whole book, nearly 250 pages, and yet a search of the book, using my Web browser's Find command, for vaccine turns up no application of the word tied to Griffith.

To my understanding, Fred Griffith's focus was basic science, not medical engineering. That is, his work was the development of scientific understanding—figuring out just what was occurring in the first place—not inventing products to alter events.

Further, the indication that I question says he was working on a vaccine to "prevent pneumonia infections". There is no such thing as pneumonia infection. Pneumonia is an illness, often attributed to infection. Infection occurs by the mere presence in the body of a replicating organism (or other biological entity), and this is not necessarily an illness, let alone the illness pneumonia, as Griffith's own work makes clear was known in the 1920s.

Further, I've seen no indication that Griffith's work in the 1920s much involved influenza illness. To my understanding, the Medical Research Council had the teams key in British research on influenza and medical engineering.

I find similar indication, which I here question, made as the opening statement on a different website []. That differing webpage lists about a dozen references, unlabeled to specific indications, including the book The Transforming Principle (which I quoted above), yet I think it unreasonable to scour about a dozen references for this one indication. (Despite the indication occurring at the start of the webpage, I found in the first two references no support of the indication.)

Since I find the indication specifically referenced neither at that webpage nor here at the Wikipedia page, and further I don't recall this indication from various reading about Fred Griffith, I wish to remove this indication from Fred Griffith's Wikipedia page. I've added greatly to Fred Griffith's page, including much contextual information that's not mere facts about Fred Griffith, yet I've tried to keep the page swift and readable so that it welcomes full reading and assimiliation. My preference is to have no spurious information on the page, and to have every word count.

And yet, although I've edited text that existed before my own contributions, I did so mainly to improve wording, or to clear vagueness or ambiguity, or to temper immoderately grand claims. I don't, however, want to delete an indication altogether, with no correlating replacement, unless I have solid historical or scientific cause for doing so. I'm not the Fred Griffith guru, and so I would like the input of others before I plainly delete this indication about Fred Griffith working on a vaccine with, atop that, implications to the Spanish flu pandemic.

2) Griffith happened to be uncle of John Stanley Griffith, a winner of the Royal Society's Faraday Medal.

On the list of winners of the Faraday Medal, I see no mention of a John Stanley Griffith, who himself has no Wikipedia page. Using Google, though not exhaustively, I found no indication of such individual associated with a Faraday Medal or with Fred Griffith (except where the indication is on Fred Griffith's Wikipedia page). On the Wikipedia page for the Michael Faraday Prize, which a Royal Society calls the Michael Faraday Medal [], I see no mention of a John Stanley Griffith. I think some disambiguation of this topic is called for, with either the award or its issuing body, or both. Meanwhile, I have not searched exhaustively to conclude this information inaccurate, yet seeing no specific reference for it on Fred Griffith's Wikipedia page, I think that I've searched reasonably enough to doubt its accuracy (at least as it's stated).

I'm not the John Stanley Griffith or Faraday Medal guru, though. So I'd like input of others. I think this second indication ought to be deleted. (Or if it's corrected or referenced then moved into a page section more biographical.)

If someone with more authority here than I hold deletes the first indication, I'll introduce Griffith's Experiment with other indications that I can reference. In any case, I myself will in time add more references to specific sentences throughout the text—to cite specific indications to specific page numbers—what I haven't done so far because I'm unfamiliar with the format to cite a source twice.

(In any case, at all times, when I superscript a reference after a sentence's period, it signifies that the reference covers the preceding sentences—usually going back to the previous reference. I don't know the style conventions about this—placement either before or after the period—and yet I like to apply this style, anyway. When I vary the format by bracketing a reference before a sentence's period, the reference covers particularly that sentence. I like to think that this distinction might be picked up on and won't be taken as mere inconsistent style.)

Kusername (talk) 07:01, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for looking into these things. The referencing may end up being changed later if those who care believe it violates Wikipedia's style sheet, but correcting erroneous or unsourced material is key for the success of the project and the info on this page. Please do change it where you find it to be wrong or unsourced. I am no expert either, I just mostly watch this page because it seems to be a frequent target of vandals. Isoxyl (talk) 17:35, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

I have updated the birth year (I notice someone had already noticed 1877 was the correct year) and added registration datails. Confusion has arisen as there are two places called Hale fairly close together. Hale, Cheshire (near Altringham) was incorporated in Greater Manchester in 1974. Hale, Lancashire ( near Widnes) is now in Cheshire, so the confusion was understandable. He was born in the Hale then in Lancashire, near Widnes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:30, 23 July 2014 (UTC)


This is a biography. I have deleted much speculation and peripheral material that does not belong here. Some content might be better placed in Griffiths experiment, but it needs to better sourced and in-keeping with WP:NPOV. Graham Colm (talk)

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