Cancer, Viruses, and Mass Migration: Paul Berg's Venture into Eukaryotic Biology and the Advent of Recombinant DNA Research and Technology, 1967-1980 [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of the History of Biology 41 (4):589 - 636 (2008)
The existing literature on the development of recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering tends to focus on Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer's recombinant DNA cloning technology and its commercialization starting in the mid-1970s. Historians of science, however, have pointedly noted that experimental procedures for making recombinant DNA molecules were initially developed by Stanford biochemist Paul Berg and his colleagues, Peter Lobban and A. Dale Kaiser in the early 1970s. This paper, recognizing the uneasy disjuncture between scientific authorship and legal invention in the history of recombinant DNA technology, investigates the development of recombinant DNA technology in its full scientific context. I do so by focusing on Stanford biochemist Berg's research on the genetic regulation of higher organisms. As I hope to demonstrate, Berg's new venture reflected a mass migration of biomedical researchers as they shifted from studying prokaryotic organisms like bacteria to studying eukaryotic organisms like mammalian and human cells. It was out of this boundary crossing from prokaryotic to eukaryotic systems through virus model systems that recombinant DNA technology and other significant new research techniques and agendas emerged. Indeed, in their attempt to reconstitute 'life' as a research technology, Stanford biochemists' recombinant DNA research recast genes as a sequence that could be rewritten thorough biochemical operations. The last part of this paper shifts focus from recombinant DNA technology's academic origins to its transformation into a genetic engineering technology by examining the wide range of experimental hybridizations which occurred as techniques and knowledge circulated between Stanford biochemists and the Bay Area's experimentalists. Situating their interchange in a dense research network based at Stanford's biochemistry department, this paper helps to revise the canonized history of genetic engineering's origins that emerged during the patenting of Cohen-Boyer's recombinant DNA cloning procedures.
|Keywords||Paul Berg recombinant DNA technology genetic engineering cancer research lysogeny eukaryotic biology Nixon’s war on cancer biotechnology|
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References found in this work BETA
Hans-Jorg Rheinberger (1997). Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube. Stanford University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA
Gregory J. Morgan (2014). Ludwik Gross, Sarah Stewart, and the 1950s Discoveries of Gross Murine Leukemia Virus and Polyoma Virus. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:200-209.
Maureen A. O'Malley, Kevin C. Elliott & Richard M. Burian (2010). From Genetic to Genomic Regulation: Iterativity in microRNA Research. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (4):407-417.
Tulley Long (2009). William McElroy, the McCollum—Pratt Institute, and the Transformation of Biology at Johns Hopkins, 1945–1960. Journal of the History of Biology 42 (4):765 - 809.
Jérôme Pierrel (2012). An RNA Phage Lab: MS2 in Walter Fiers' Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Ghent, From Genetic Code to Gene and Genome, 1963-1976. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 45 (1):109 - 138.
Miguel García-Sancho (2011). Academic and Molecular Matrices: A Study of the Transformations of Connective Tissue Research at the University of Manchester (1947–1996). [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (2):233-245.
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