Posts tagged: Center News

Processing of the Paul Zamecnik papers has begun

By , July 25, 2016

Paul Zamecnik (1912-2009) was the Collis P. Huntington Professor of Oncologic Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and headed laboratories at the Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (1947-1979, 1997-2009) and the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Foundation, Worcester, Massachusetts (1979-1997). He is known for his work across multiple fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, including the identification and characterization of the principal components of protein synthesis. He was among those who discovered soluble molecular RNA, later known as transfer RNA (tRNA,) and discovered antisense RNAs and their therapeutic potential; Zamecnik produced the first evidence for the presence and potential role of microRNAs. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Paul Zamecnik papers, a product of his research and career as an author and professor at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed.

Paul Charles Zamecnik was born 22 November 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio, and at sixteen, enrolled at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. Zamecnik completed bachelor’s degrees at Dartmouth in both chemistry and zoology (1933), and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (1936). He interned at Harvard’s Colllis P. Huntington Laboratories for Cancer Research and in 1938, was an intern at University Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio. 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 to 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. He was also a cofounder of Hybridon, Incorporated, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1990 to work on the development of antisense drugs; this company merged with Idera Pharmaceuticals in 2004.

Zamecnik is known for his work on protein synthesis, and the discovery of transfer RNA, as well as antisense RNAs and their therapeutic potential. During his early career, he was able to show the incorporation of C14 amino acid into the protein in rat liver slices, which led him to develop a cell-free system with Nancy L. Bucher (1913-) in order to dissect the intermediary events. In 1956, with this system in place, Zamecnik worked with Mahlon B. Hoagland (1921-2009) and Mary Louise Stephenson (1921-2009) to show that ATP was required for protein synthesis via the formation of amino acid adenylates. During this work, Zamecnik noted that ribosomes were the site of protein assembly, which led to the discovery of a small soluble molecular RNA, first called soluble RNA (sRNA) and later transfer RNA (tRNA). Zamecnik then created the cell-free system in E. coli, which led to the deciphering of the genetic code. In 1978, while working on the structure of the Rous sarcoma virus, he showed that it was possible to create a short chain of nucleotides, or a synthetic antisense chain, that would bind to the complementary nucleotide sequence of the messenger RNA (mRNA) strand. He was successful in using antisense oligos to block the replication, transcription, and translation of Rous sarcoma virus in chicken fibroblasts, from which a new chemotherapeutic concept was born. Later in his career, Zamecnik and his coworkers used antisense inhibition in in vitro systems to interfere with the growth of the influenza virus, HIV, f. malaria and M. tuberculosis. He was the first to publish evidence for the existence of microRNA, and showed that the insertion of oligonucleotides by transhybridization could correct the cystic fibrosis gene mutation and that antisense oligos could inhibit cell wall synthesis.

Throughout his career, Paul Zamecnik was an active professor and administrator at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He received several awards for his research efforts, including honorary doctorates from Columbia University, New York, New York (1971) and Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (1987), as well as the National Medal of Science (1991), and the Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in the Medical Sciences (1996).

The papers, created throughout Zamecnik’s research, professional, and publishing activities, include research data and notes, grant and patent materials, correspondence, and writings and drafts. They are expected to be opened to research by July 2017. For more information on the processing of these papers, contact Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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The Bernard D. Davis Papers are open for research

By , April 22, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk). Davis (1916-1994) A.B., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was the Chair of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology from 1957-1968 and the Adele Lehman Professor of Bacterial Physiology from 1968-1984, both at Harvard Medical School. He was a microbiologist who focused throughout his career on biochemical and genetic mutations, microbial and bacterial physiology, and the impact of science on society and culture.

Davis is most known for his scientific research in microbiology and bacterial physiology, focusing on the ribosome cycle, streptomycin, protein secretion vesicles, studies of Escherichia coli, bacterial membrane transport systems, and mechanisms of drug resistance and chemotherapy. Early in his career, Davis created the penicillin enrichment method for obtaining nutritional mutants of Escherichia coli, as did Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008), independently. While at Harvard Medical School, his key scientific findings included the details of the ribosome cycle; protein secretion vesicles; the dominance of susceptibility to streptomycin (due to the misreading of the genetic code); and in 1987, with colleague P.C. Tai, a unified mechanism of streptomycin killing. His work with Werner Maas foreshadows later findings in genetics, as well, though he did not focus primarily on genetics. Davis authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific papers, most of which are included in the Bernard D. Davis Papers.

In the latter portion of his career, Davis became an advocate for the role of science in culture, the ethics of genetic engineering, evolution and human diversity, the implications of affirmative action, and the defense of fellow scientists accused of fraud and misconduct. Davis was also a passionate teacher, and co-authored multiple editions of a new textbook for medical students, Microbiology (first edition, 1967), along with R. Dulbecco, H. Eisen, H. Ginsberg, and initially W.B. Wood. In his role as advocate, he published a collection of essays concerning contemporary controversies facing science and scientists, entitled Storm Over Biology: Essays On Science, Sentiment, and Public Policy, in 1986. Many of the papers relate to these moral and ethical issues, including correspondence, articles, and manuscript and chapter drafts.

Overall, the papers include correspondence and subject files, administrative, teaching and professional records, unpublished writings and drafts, and reprints and volumes written by Davis, as well as the collected publications of colleagues and students. This includes the manuscript of an unpublished book on the topic of scientific fraud written late in his life, and several chapters of an unpublished autobiography.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Bernard D. Davis papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics, virology, and microbiology: the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988; the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001; the  Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960; the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996; and the Harold Amos papers, 1949-2003. For more information on the project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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Processing of the Harold Amos Papers Underway

By , April 15, 2016

In 1952, Harold Amos was the first African American doctoral graduate of the Division of Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. He went on to become the first African American Department Chair at Harvard Medical School, serving as the Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from 1968-1971 and again from 1975-1978. His research focused on nutrition and animal cells, including the use of bacterial RNA to program higher cell protein synthesis, enzyme inductions, insulin, serum, temperature effects, ribosomes, phosphoproteins, RNA metabolism, as well as glucose starvation and glycerol and hexose metabolism. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Harold Amos papers, a product of his professional activities, research, and career as a Professor at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Harold Amos was born 7 September 1918 in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and completed his undergraduate studies at Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, graduating summa cum laude in 1941 with a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry. Amos was a graduate assistant in the Biology Department, Springfield College, until he was drafted into the Quartermaster Corps of the United States Army (1942). He served during World War II as a warrant officer in a battalion that supplied gasoline to troops; he spent two years in England before serving in France and former Czechoslovakia until his discharge (1946). Amos enrolled in the Biological Sciences’ graduate program in the Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, in 1946, and completed his Master’s degree in 1947. He became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from the Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, in 1952. Amos received a Fulbright fellowship and worked in the laboratory of Georges Cohen at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, working with the threonine mutants of Escherichia coli (1951-1952). Amos then returned to Harvard Medical School in 1954 as an Instructor, Department of Bacteriology and Immunology. He advanced to the position of full Professor in 1969. He was the first African American to head a department at Harvard Medical School when he became the Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, a role he held from 1968-1971 and again from 1975-1978. He also served as the Chair, Division of Medical Sciences, two times (1971-1975, 1978-1988). In 1975, he became the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and held this role until he became a Professor Emeritus in 1988. After his retirement, he became an active member of the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and continued to work in the laboratory of Jack Murphy at Boston University up until his death.

Much of Amos’s research focuses on animal cells, though his initial focus was on Escherichia coli and its phages, including the 1958 finding of 5-methylcytosine in Escherichia coli, which was only confirmed decades later. During his time at Harvard Medical School, Amos studied the use of bacterial RNA to program higher cell protein synthesis, enzyme inductions, insulin, serum, temperature effects, ribosomes, phosphoproteins, RNA metabolism, as well as glucose starvation and glycerol and hexose metabolism.

The papers, created throughout Amos’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include correspondence, research data and notes, teaching records, and materials relating to the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2016.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Harold Amos papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960, the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988, and the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996. Already, the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk), have been opened as part of the project. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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Processing of the Luigi Gorini Papers has begun as part of the Maximizing Microbiology Project

By , February 18, 2016

Luigi Gorini was a microbiologist known for his research in the physiology of proteolysis, bacterial and gene expression regulation, bacterial ribosomes, and the influence of ribosomal mutations, as well as for his anti-fascist political activism during World War II. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Luigi Gorini papers (1947-1977), a product of Gorini’s research, professional and publishing activities, and career as a professor at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Luigi Gorini was born on 13 November 1903 in Milan, Italy, and attended the University of Pavia, Italy, for his undergraduate and graduate education. He completed his thesis in organic chemistry, but focused in his graduate studies on biology. His studies were cut short in 1931 by the rise of the fascist state. Gorini fled to Milan, Italy, where he was a researcher at the Istituto Giuliana Ronzoni from 1942-1945. He became the head of the Department of Biochemistry at the Istituto Scientifico di Chimica e Biochimica Giuliana Ronzoni in 1946, a role he held until emigrating to Paris, France, in 1949. In the years directly following the fall of the Italian fascist government, Gorini and his wife Annamaria Torriani-Gorini, a fellow scientist he met at the Istituto Giuliana Ronzoni, managed a refugee camp for Jewish children orphaned during the Holocaust, preparing them and making arrangements for their emigration to Israel.

In Paris, he worked in the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry at the National Center for Scientific Research at the Sorbonne, Paris, from 1949-1951. In 1951, Gorini was named the Head of Research in this laboratory, and the Master of Research in 1954. He was a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Pharmacology of the College of Medicine at New York University, New York, from 1955-1957, where he came to work with Bernard D. Davis (1916-1994). Gorini was hired as a Lecturer in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at the Harvard Medical School in 1957, after Davis was hired as its chair. Gorini continued to teach and research at Harvard Medical School for the remainder of his career. He became the American Cancer Society Associate Professor in this Department in 1962, and acted as the American Cancer Society Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from this time until his retirement in 1974. He remained at Professor Emeritus until his death on 13 August 1976.

Gorini’s laboratory research early in his career related to aspects of bacterial proteolysis and the biochemistry of extracellular enzymes. His work on the physiology of proteolysis led to the discovery of an unusual growth factor, catechol, in 1954. Working with Werner Maas (1921-), Gorini recognized the way bacterial enzymes affect bacterial regulation, which in turn altered modes of thought about the regulation of gene expression and led to the development of the concept of the gene repressor. Once at Harvard Medical School, Gorini’s research focus was primarily on the arginine pathway and the influence of ribosomal mutations. With Eva Kataja, Gorini also studied bacterial ribosomes and the effect of streptomycin. He published more than 100 scientific articles, writing up until his death, and received multiple awards for his scientific research, including the Kronauer Prize from the Faculté des Sciences at the Sorbonne in 1949 and the Harvard University Ledlie Prize in 1965. Gorini also remained politically active throughout his life, writing and speaking out against fascism, violence, and racial and gender prejudice.

The papers, created throughout Gorini’s research, professional, teaching, and publishing activities, include raw research data, correspondence, writings and publications, and other materials relating to his professional activities. They are expected to be opened to research early in 2016.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. The project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics, including the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1936-1959, and the the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk). For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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Processing the Arthur B. Pardee Papers As Part of the Maximizing Microbiology Project

By , December 4, 2015

In 1954, Arthur B. Pardee published a paper describing the discovery of messenger RNA (mRNA), soon after publishing the first report of ribosomes in bacteria in 1952, forever changing the study of microbiology. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Arthur B. Pardee papers (1949-2001), a product of Pardee’s professional activities, research, and career as a professor at Harvard Medical School and researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Arthur B. Pardee (1921-) graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1942, before receiving his Masters of Science in 1943 and then doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1947. Pardee spent several years teaching and working in the influential Virus Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, where much of his early research focused on the mechanism of feedback inhibition at the biochemical level. While working at the Virus Lab, Pardee made the discovery of mRNA as well as the presence of ribosomes in bacteria. In 1959, Pardee took a sabbatical and worked with Francois Jacob (1920-2013) and Jacques Monod (1910-1976) at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, where they carried out the “PaJaMo” experiment, which demonstrated that gene expression is regulated by a repressor mechanism.

Pardee went on to become a Professor of Biochemical Sciences at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, where he  identified the restriction point in the cell cycle, or “Pardee point,” which is a point in a cell cycle in the G1 Phase where the cell commits to moving to the S Phase. He published this finding in 1974, defining the discovery as that of a restriction point for control of normal animal cell proliferation.

In 1975, Pardee accepted the positions of Professor of Biological Chemistry, Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, and Chief, Division of Cell Growth and Regulation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1980s, Pardee continued his work relating to cancer, identifying certain agents that can uncouple mitosis from the completion of DNA replication, which is lethal to cells. This finding led directly to the emergence of the idea that the cell-cycle is controlled by “checkpoint” proteins, which ensure temporal control of cell-cycle biochemical events. He thus introduced the idea that cancer cell frequently harbor defects in checkpoint proteins, and that checkpoint-abrogating agents might be used to selectively kill cancer cells. In the 1990s, along with Peng Liang, Pardee invented the concept of differential display, which is a method to detect messenger RNAs expressed in a given cell type, which can be used to isolate specific genes. This has since been used to detect genes whose expression has been altered by cancer or other diseases, and was one of the first methods used to detect cancer in its early stages. For his many accomplishments, Pardee has received countless awards and honors, and has been an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1963 and member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1968. He retired from teaching in 1992, and remains a Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Medical School. He continues to work as the Chief of the Division of Cell Growth and Regulation at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, actively publishing articles.

The papers, created throughout Pardee’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include raw research data, presentation materials, writings, and other materials relating to his professional activities. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2015.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Arthur B. Pardee papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1936-1959 and the Luigi Gorini papers, 1947-1980s. Already, the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk), have been opened as part of the project. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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Bernard D. Davis Papers Processing Has Begun, as part of Maximizing Microbiology Project

By , July 17, 2015
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1991.

Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1991.

In 1953, Bernard D. Davis conducted work on biochemically deficient mutants at a laboratory at the Department of Preventive Medicine at Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, that revolutionized microbiology. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Bernard D. Davis papers (1960-1993), a product of Davis’s professional activities, research, and long career as a teacher at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Davis (1916–1994) graduated from Harvard College in 1938 and Harvard Medical School in 1940. After time working in laboratories as a research fellow and intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and as a commissioned officer of the United States Public Health Service, Davis became Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at New York University. He then served as the Chair of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology and as Professor in the Bacterial Physiology Unit at Harvard Medical School. Following his retirement from Harvard, he served as a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Taiwan University, before being appointed as a Fogarty Scholar at the National Institutes of Health. He was nominated to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967, an organization for which he served as the President of the Nominating Committee. In 1989, he received the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology.

Davis produced important research which led to advances in microbial physiology and metabolism. He co-authored multiple editions of the central textbook of this area of study, Microbiology, first published in 1967. Later in life, he wrote more philosophical texts regarding the impact science has on human life and interactions, including the book Storm Over Biology: Essays on Science, Sentiment, and Public Policy (1986)  and was in the midst of writing a text defending a fellow scientist after false misconduct charges at the time of his death in 1994. The papers, created throughout Davis’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include professional appointments and teaching records, writings and publications, public speaking records, professional association membership and committee records, research records, and collected publications. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2015.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Bernard D. Davis papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Luigi Gorini papers, 1947-1980s; the Papers of Arthur B. Pardee, 1950-2000; and the Papers of Francesc Duran i Reynals, 1936-1959 (bulk). For more information on the project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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