Posts tagged: Virology

The Francesc Duran i Reynals Papers are open for research

By , May 27, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Francesc Duran i Reynals Papers, 1913-1960. Francesc Duran i Reynals (1899-1958), M.D., University of Barcelona, Spain, was a Research Associate and Lecturer in the Department of Microbiology at the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. Duran i Reynals was known for research regarding the viral etiology of cancer and the mechanisms of spread of infectious diseases and cancer.

Duran i Reynals’s experiments related to the viral etiology of cancer, looking at the responses of the ground substances of tissues and necrotizing and tumor-producing cancers. He demonstrated the capacity of the Rous virus to adapt to different types of bird by the infection of embryos or recently hatched birds. These experiments led to the idea of the increased sensitivity of very young animals to tumor-producing viruses, which in turn has led to the detection of viruses causing leukemia and other tumor diseases in mammals. These experiments opened the field of virus-tumor research, and led to progress in the understanding of cancer and the mechanisms of spread for infectious agents in the body. Duran i Reynals was a consultant for multiple professional organizations as well, including the American Cancer Society, the National Research Council’s Panel on Viruses, Committee on Growth, and the United States Public Health Service. For his research, he was awarded medals from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France; the University of Liege, Belgium; and the University of Brussels, Belgium. He won the Claude Bernard Medal of the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and the 1952 Anna Fuller Memorial Prize, Yale University, for his research on viruses in relation to cancer. After his death, he was given the Public Health Cancer Association of America award in 1958.

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The papers contain files relating to his professional activities, correspondence with peers on the topics of his research, scientific experiments, and proposed research by others, raw and analyzed research data, including illustrations and images, as well as materials relating to his writings and publications and a group of research reference files containing citations for texts used to develop research projects.

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 Frances Duran i Reynals papers, the project will has already opened the Bernard D. Davis papers, and will open the following  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 Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996; the Harold Amos papers, 1949-2003; and the Dennis L. Kasper papers, 1971-2013. For more information on the project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director, or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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.

Processing of the Myron “Max” Essex papers has begun

By , March 2, 2016
Max Essex, the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at his desk at HSPH. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Max Essex, the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at his desk at HSPH. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

In 1982, along with Robert Gallo (1937-) and Luc Montagnier (1932-), Myron “Max” Essex (1939-) hypothesized that a retrovirus was the cause of AIDS. Working with colleagues, he identified the envelope proteins of HIV that are routinely used for diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and for blood screening, and he later identified the simian T cell virus and the simian immunodeficiency virus in monkeys, and HIV-2 in human beings, working with students and peers. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Myron Essex papers (1965-1996), a product of Essex’s professional, research, and publishing activities, are being published as part of Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology.

Myron “Max” Essex (1939-) completed his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, in 1967, and then received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, in 1970. Beginning his career as a veterinarian, Essex focused on research on feline leukemia and this virus’s transmittal through sexual contact and saliva. His studies of feline leukemia, also known as feline AIDS, related closed to ongoing research about infectious human diseases, and eventually his research transitioned to the study of human retroviruses. Essex served as an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (1972-1978) and was a lecturer, Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (1976-1992). In 1979, he became a Professor of Virology, Harvard School of Public Health. Essex acted as the Chairman, Department of Microbiology, Harvard School of Public Health (1978-1982), and continued to act as the Chairman of the renamed and restructured Department of Cancer Biology (1982-1997). He then became Chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, a role he held until 2006. Essex was offered the position of the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard University in 1989, and has held this position ever since. He was also the John LaPorte Given Professor of Infectious Diseases (1998-2006).

Essex has been the Chair of the Harvard AIDS Institute, now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, since 1988, and has been involved with the development of its educational programs. Since 1986, Essex has developed programs for AIDS collaboration in Senegal, Thailand, Botswana, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Mexico, and China, and in 1996, helped to organize the Botswana-Harvard Partnership for HIV Research and Education, a collaboration between the Ministry of Health in Botswana and the Harvard AIDS Institute. He is presently the Chair of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute in Gaborone, Botswana.

Much of Essex’s scientific research relates to the transmission of retroviruses and their links to certain diseases in both animals and human beings. Working with William A. Haseltine (1944-), he was among the first to link human and animal retroviruses to immunosuppressive diseases, and, with Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier to theorize that AIDS was caused by a retrovirus. Alongside fellow scientists, Essex provided the first evidence that HIV could be transmitted through blood transfusions and sexual intercourse. In 1984, with colleagues, Essex identified gp120, the virus surface protein that is used for blood screening, HIV detection, and epidemiological monitoring. He was part of the group that discovered the first simian immunodeficiency virus, as well as HIV-2 in human beings. Currently, he conducts research related to the virology, immunobiology, and molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 viruses, especially the HIV-1C of southern Africa. Essex has laboratories at both the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where research focuses on the evolution of new HIV viruses; and the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute, where his research focuses prevention of new HIV infections through the Botswana Combination Prevention Project, as well as drug development to decrease mother-to-infant transmissions, drug resistance, and the possible transmission of drug resistant HIV variants.

The papers, created throughout Essex’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include correspondence, teaching and conference records, research notes and data, and writings and publications. The papers 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 Library. In addition to the Myron Essex papers, the project has already led to the processing of collections of several other microbiologists, including those of Bernard D. Davis, Arthur B. Pardee, Francesc Duran i Reynals, and Luigi Gorini. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

 

Processing of the Francesc Duran i Reynals Papers Underway

By , December 18, 2015

0003703_drefIn the 1950s, Francesc Duran i Reynals, a Spanish-born microbiologist working in the Department of Microbiology at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, developed theories about the viral etiology of cancer. At the time, these theories were often debated and argued against, but Duran i Reynals’ experiments and writings opened the field of virus-tumor research, and led to progress in the understanding of cancer and the mechanisms of spread for infectious agents in the body. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers (1924-1960), a product of Duran i Reynals’s professional, research, and publishing activities, are being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology.

Francesc Duran i Reynals (1899-1958) completed both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Barcelona, Spain, where he worked with Ramon Turro (1854-1926). He became the first Spanish scientist to culture bacterial viruses. In 1925, he moved to Paris, France, to work with Alexandre Besredka (1870-1940) and Élie Wollman (1917-2008) in a laboratory at the Institut Pasteur. Between 1926 and 1928, Duran i Reynals relocated to New York, New York, to work with Dr. James B. Murphy (1884-1950) at the Rockefeller Institute in the Department of Cancer Research, where he remained until 1934, when he returned to Spain to start a new laboratory of cancer research at the University of Madrid. However, when the Spanish Civil War halted those plans, Dr. Murphy rehired Duran i Reynals at the Rockefeller Institute, where he remained until 1938, becoming a Research Assistant in the Department of Microbiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Later, he became a Research Associate and lecturer, and remained at Yale until his death. Duran i Reynals spent the summers from 1938 to 1957 working as a Scientific Associate at the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. His wife, Maria Luisa de Ayala, worked with him at Yale and the Jackson Memorial Laboratory, and continued his research after his death on 1958 March 28.

Duran i Reynals’s research focused on the viral etiology of cancer, studying the responses of the ground substances of tissues and necrotizing and tumor-producing cancers. His laboratory experiments demonstrated the capacity of the Rous virus to adapt to different types of bird by the infection of embryos and recently hatched birds. These experiments led to the idea of the increased sensitivity of very young animals to tumor-producing animals, which in turn has led to the detection of viruses causing leukemias and other tumors in mammals.

The papers, created throughout Duran i Reynals’s professional, research, and publishing activities, include raw research data, research notes, writings and published scientific articles, as well as reference files. The papers 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 Library. In addition to the Frances Duran i Reynals papers, the project has already led to the processing of collections of two others whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995, and the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001. Other collections to be opened as part of the project include the Luigi Gorini papers. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

 

Priscilla A. Schaffer Papers Now Open

By , September 12, 2014
Doctor Priscilla A. Schaffer (left) and associate.

Doctor Priscilla A. Schaffer (left) and associate.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Priscilla A. Schaffer papers to researchers.

Priscilla Ann Schaffer was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1941. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hobart and William Smith College in 1964 and her Ph.D. from Cornell Medical College (now Weill-Cornell Medical College) in 1969. After receiving her doctorate, Schaffer took a position at the Baylor College of Medicine and, by the time she was recruited to join Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 1976, was an assistant professor in Baylor’s Department of Virology and Epidemiology. Schaffer joined the HMS Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and began working at the Sidney Farber Cancer Institute (now the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) as an associate professor. She received a full professorship at HMS in 1981, but left the school briefly to chair the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1996 to 2000. Returning to Boston in 2000, Schaffer resumed teaching at HMS and became chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Schaffer specialized in virology throughout her career, focusing on the study of herpesviridae. Early in her career, she was responsible for the isolation and characterization of a collection of temperature-sensitive mutants of herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, as well as mutants resistant to immune cytolysis and antiviral drugs. She was one of the first in the field of virology to begin study of the molecular basis of the herpes simplex virus. Schaffer was the recipient of multiple awards for her work, including the Elizabeth Blackwell Award in 2007 as well as  awards from the American Society for Microbiology, Harvard Medical School, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Cancer Society.

In addition to her groundbreaking research, Schaffer is remembered for her extraordinary dedication as a mentor to both her students and peers.  Don Coen, HMS Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and a former postdoctoral fellow, and later colleague, of Schaffer’s, remembers that she “took training people in her laboratory and being a good mentor far beyond what most scientists do.”1  A memorial penned by Coen and published in the Journal of Virology describes Schaffer as a “stalwart herpesvirologist” and “champion for scientific integrity.”  When it came to guiding trainees in the lab or helping to edit a colleague’s manuscript, she was “always ready with advice and support and, when necessary, a gentle kick in the pants.”2

In 2007, Schaffer left HMS and moved to Arizona where she had long planned to build a house. There she joined the faculty at the University of Arizona and remained involved as a researcher and mentor in that community. She died in 2009 just after the completion of her Arizona home, survived by her mother, four siblings, and her long-time caretaker and friend Madelon Cook. You can watch an oral history interview with Schaffer here.

The bulk of the collection reflects Schaffer’s work as a laboratory research scientist in virology, including grants files and laboratory records, from her career after her arrival at Harvard in 1976.


1. Wickett, S. (2010). Dr. Priscilla Schaffer, leader in study of herpesviruses; at 67. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2010/02/08/dr_priscilla_schaffer_leader_in_study_of_herpesviruses_at_67
 2 September 2014
2. Coen, D.M. & Enquist, L.W. (2010). Priscilla Schaffer (1941-2009): a Stalwart Herpesvirologist. Journal of Virology, 84 (13). Retrieved from http://jvi.asm.org/content/84/13/6265.full 2 September 2014

Center acquires Thomas H. Weller papers

By , March 12, 2012

(L to R) Drs. Quentin Gaiman, Donald Augustine, and Thomas Weller of the HSPH Department of Tropical Public Health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the Thomas Huckle Weller papers.

Thomas Huckle Weller (1915-2008), A.B., S.M., 1936, 1937, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.D., 1940, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was a virologist and 1954 Nobel Prize winner who headed the Department of Tropical Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, from 1954 to 1981.

Dr. Weller received the Nobel Prize in 1954 with John Enders and Frederick Robbins for discovering how to grow the polio virus (poliomyelitis) in culture.  The, subsequently named Enders-Robbins-Weller method assisted Dr. Weller in isolating and growing other viruses, such as Varicella-zoster, the virus that causes chicken pox, and rubella, the virus that causes German measles.

Dr. Weller’s intellectual curiosity was not limited to virology– he had an early interest in the natural world, and published his first paper after capturing a 12 year old blue jay in 1935.  He also had a keen interest in bacterial and medical parasitology and spent many years studying schistosomiasis, a snail-spread disease that can  damage internal organs and, in children, impair growth and cognitive development.

Acquisitions Archivist Giordana Mecagni worked closely with Weller’s daughter-in-law Anne Nicholson-Weller, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School who also works in infectious disease.  With help from library assistant Carolyn Hayes, they carefully preserved, packed into boxes, and arranged for nearly 70 boxes of records to be moved from his home in Needham, MA to the Center for the History of Medicine.  The collection is large, ranging, and results from all aspects of his scientific and intellectual life–  from notes and drafts of his publications, lab notebooks, travel journals and trip reports, many boxes of correspondence, to lectures and talks he gave all over the world.

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