Five unidentified Harvard scientists are reported by the New York Times to be among the 48 researchers named in a new blacklist compiled by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
The blacklisting of a researcher or scientist prohibits his serving on HEW committees regulating research activities and Federal grants.
"No one knows whether he is on the blacklist or not," said Nobel laureate George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology. He referred to the resurgence of government security pressures as "a conspiratorial phenomenon," and said he was "shocked, but not too surprised" by the report.
He recalled once having to sign a "loyalty oath" in order to receive travel fare for delivering a lecture at the National Institutes of Health, a unit of HEW. He added, "I've never been asked to serve on an advisory panel of NIH."
Mark Ptashne, lecturer in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, called the blacklist "ridiculous" and "out of the Middle Ages," but admitted, "I'd be disappointed if I weren't on it"
Among the distinguished research leaders are seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, including Salvatore E. Luria, professor of microbiology at M.I.T., and one of the three Americans awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine last week. Luria had previously refused to serve on HEW review boards until the "tests of political conformity" were abolished.
Robert H. Finch, Secretary of HEW, congratulated Luria by telegram following last week's Nobel presentation. "You have amply earned the gratitude of all Americans," he said.
Ad Hoc Committee
Dr. Dane G. Prugh of the University of Colorado, chairman of the ad hoc Steering Committee on HEW Clearance, said his group was trying to convince the Department to relax its "unwarranted practice of security investigations for non-sensitive positions."
Representatives of 27 scientific and legal organizations drafted the Committee statement, to be sent to Finch today. It condemns as "carried over from the 1950's" the continued use of "security and suitability" criteria often related to political beliefs or personal associations."
A committee of the National Academy of sciences has condemned all criteria for membership on Federal research review boards except those of "scientific competence, integrity, and judgment."
The current list brings to 93 the number of known listings. However, the Times reports, "It appears that the total number of blacklisted scientists is in he hundreds."