lp16a Plagiarism

The following are exchanges of letters between myself and Professor Bertil Hille of the University of Washington on the subject generally known as plagiarism (Webster: the act of stealing and passing off {the idea or words of another} as one's own without crediting the source).

On August 28, 1986 I wrote to Dr. Bertil Hille of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics of the University of Washington, School of Medicine. Here are excerpts from relevant parts:

Dear Dr. Hille:...I read your review "Ionic Selectivity of Na and K Channels of Nerve Membranes"....On page 300 you presented a picture of your models of the Na channels and K channels. You cited as the origin of this picture as: "after Hille (41, 110 )" (B. Hille, J. Gen. Physiol. 59: 637, 1972; 60: 699, 1973). In neither of these articles or anywhere else did you refer to my work on the subject. Yet the model you presented as your own incorporates basic ideas that I introduced first many years ago, i.e., it is the carboxyl groups of the membrane proteins that play a role in determining the K and Na ion specificity (Ling, 1953, in Proc. of the 19th Intern. Physiol; Cong.,. Montreal, p. 566). In 1957, thus preceding your publication by many years, I described the result of a theoretical model in which selectivity for K and for Na could result from a difference in the electron density (or c-value) (Ling, 1957, Fed. Proc. 16: 81). At low electron density K+ is preferred over Na+. At a high electron density or c-value, this ion selectivity is reversed, Na+ is preferred over K+ as a result of a loss of water intervening between the negative charged carboxyl group and the Na ion. The work reported in 1957 was published in more details in 1960 (Ling, J. Gen. Physiol. 43: 149) and then in full detail in my 1962 monograph referred to above (A Physical Theory of the Living State, 1962)".

It is possible that you might have given me credit even though I cannot find it. I had to rely on the accuracy of the Citation and Source Indexes. Nevertheless, nothing human can be guaranteed 100% error-proof. I, therefore, ask you to straighten me out if you have in fact given me full credit elsewhere in print for what I have mentioned above....

Sincerely yours, (Signed) Gilbert Ling

P.S. In the Phosphorus Metabolism article, copy of which is enclosed, the detailed description of the fixed negative charge referred to is given, i.e., carboxyl groups of proteins. Encls; Fed. Proc. 16:81, 1957; XIX Intern. Physiol. Cong. (1953); Phosphorus Metabolism . Vol. II, 748 (1952).

Having received no answer, I sent another letter dated September 25, 1986. In this letter I wrote: "...Your failure to answer can be taken as an admission that no such reference to my work was made, thus confirming results of my thorough search of the Citation and Source Indexes. ...I am sending this letter registered with a return slip. I do hope you will tend to this matter at your earliest convenience. It is not something that you can treat lightly or ignore".

Only then did I get a response from Professor Bertil Hille dated September 29, 1986 that is both flippant and evasive: "... I do indeed regret if anything that I have written can be interpreted as .....plagiarisms of anyone as this is definitely not intended."

On October 15, 1986 I acknowledged the receipt of Hille's September 29 letter and informed him that the explanation he offered in his letter was not satisfactory. He plagiarized my work and now he claims it to be unintentional. If he were honest in this claim, he should have immediately set out to correct the mistake. Yet ten years later, today, he still has made no effort to correct the "not intended" plagiarizing of my ideas as his own. He plagiarized first and then lied in saying that he did it unintentionally.