The Paul Charles Zamecnik papers are open for research

By , October 31, 2017

0004657_drefThe Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Paul Charles Zamecnik papers, 1910-2011 (inclusive), 1931-2009 (bulk). Zamecnik (1912-2009) was a microbiologist and molecular biologist whose research spanned eight decades. Zamecnik is known for his work on protein synthesis and the discovery of transfer RNA, accomplished with colleagues Mahlon Hoagland (1921-2009) and Mary Louise Stephenson (1921-2009). Later in his career, he discovered antisense oligonucleotides and explored their therapeutic potential, and was the first to publish evidence for the existence of microRNA.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (1933) and the Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (1936), Zamecnik interned at the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital and then at Cleveland, Ohio’s University Hospitals. Zamecnik was a fellow at the Carlsberg Laboratories, Copenhagen, Denmark, but returned to the work at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, New York, after the 1940 Nazi invasion of Denmark. He held a teaching position at Harvard Medical School during the war, and was then given his own laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital focusing on the mechanisms of protein synthesis. In 1956, Zamecnik became the Collis P. Huntington Professor of Oncologic Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and continued his research at Massachusetts General Hospital until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1979. At that time, he moved his research laboratory to the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, where he remained until 1997 when that foundation was absorbed by the University of Massachusetts. Zamecnik returned to Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cancer Center as a Senior Scientist, where he continued to work until weeks prior to his death in 2009. In 1990, he cofounded Hybridon, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose work focused on the development of antisense drugs; this company merged with Idera Pharmaceuticals in 2004. In 2009, Zamecnik cofounded Zata Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts, with David Tabatadze; this company continues to explore the therapeutic possibilities of antisense oligonucleotides.


Data from Zamecnik's research that led to the discovery of transfer RNA

Data from Zamecnik’s research that led to the discovery of transfer RNA

The papers are the product of Zamecnik’s activities as a microbiologist and molecular biologist, researcher, author, professor, and administrator. The papers contain: Zamecnik’s research records, including those relating to transfer RNA and antisense oligonucleotides; professional correspondence, writings and publications records; records from talks, symposia, presentations, and conferences Zamecnik attended; Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital records; and photographs and slides relating to his research, teachings and presentations, and travel.

The finding aid for the Zamecnik papers can be found: .

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the  Public Services staff.

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