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Ludwik Gross Papers

Identifier: MS C 504


Personal papers of Ludwik Gross, Lasker-Award winning cancer research pioneer who proved that viruses could cause cancer in animals.


  • 1908-2014


12.34 Linear Feet (10 boxes, 30 volumes)


Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English


Collection is not restricted. Contact the Reference Staff for information regarding access.

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Biographical Note

Dr. Ludwik Gross published over 200 scientific papers on cancer and leukemia. His monograph Oncogenic Viruses (Pergamon Press, Oxford and New York), is considered a standard reference book in cancer research laboratories. He also published, in his early years, 2 books in Polish, written for laymen, on Medicine and Medical discoveries. Dr. Gross won an Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation prize in 1974 for his discovery of what became known as the Gross mouse leukemia virus. His work in the 1950s, the Lasker jury said, opened the field of tumor virology in mammals and "laid the foundations for the subsequent discovery by others of cancer-inducing viruses in animals of various species ranging from rodents to primates". Gross continued past retirement as a "Distinguished Physician" with the Veterans Administration Hospital. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Gross was born in Krakow, Poland on September 11, 1904. Both his parents were lawyers and his father was a member of the Austro-Hungarian Parliament. He obtained his medical degree at Jagiellonian University in Krakow in 1929. He trained in internal medicine for three years at the St. Lazar General Hospital there. In the 1930s, he worked at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He immigrated to the United States in 1940 and worked at the Jewish Hospital and Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, where he developed an interest in cancer research. After serving in the army during World War II, he became chief of cancer research at the Bronx VA Hospital.

Dr. Gross received his M.D. degree in 1929 at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. After internship and residency at the St. Lazar Hospital in Krakow, he worked, with some interruptions, on experimental cancer immunity at the Pasteur Institute in Paris (1932-1939). In 1940, after the outbreak of the war, he immigrated to the United States where he continued his studies on cancer immunity at the Institute for Medical Research, and at both the Jewish Hospital and the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, until 1943 when he joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Towards the end of the war he was sent by the Army as a Captain, to the Veterans Administration Hospital in the Bronx, New York City. There he organized a small cancer research laboratory, while still in service, in 1945. At first, this laboratory consisted of only a single room, but Gross was later able to gradually expand it into a Cancer Research Unit. Gross remained head of this lab for the remainder of his career, well into the 1990s. Dr. Gross also served simultaneously as a consultant (1953-1956) and later as an associate scientist (1957-1960) at the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center in New York City. In 1971 he received an appointment as Chief Cancer Research Professor of Medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, of the City University of New York, which is affiliated with the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital.

Until 1951, scientists believed that mouse leukemia, and many other leukemias, were genetic diseases. Dr. Gross upset that dogma by showing that a virus caused mouse leukemia and could be passed naturally from generation to generation. Before his discovery, scientists had largely ignored the role of viruses in cancer, even though in 1908 researchers had suggested a viral cause by transmitting leukemia and sarcomas in chickens. Also over the next 30 years, scientists experimented with transmitting a type of kidney cancer prevalent in New England lake frogs to other frogs, as well as transmitting breast cancer in mice via milk from mothers to their offspring.

Long before his discovery, Dr Gross had theorized about a virus called mouse leukemia, but had failed to find it. By chance he heard a lecture by a scientist working on a different virus who said he could show its harmful effects by injecting it into suckling mice, though not by injecting it into older mice. Dr. Gross developed a similar experiment by injecting material from leukemic mice into newborn mice known to be free of leukemia. This experiment showed that the virus was passed naturally through successive generations of mice to cause leukemia. Criticism and hostility initially followed his discovery, but they gradually disappeared as his subsequent laboratory research showed that radiation or chemicals could induce leukemia in mice by activating a dormant virus. Also, other scientists would later develop vaccines against the feline leukemia virus in cats and Marek's disease, a cancer found in chickens. Gross's hypothesis that viruses could cause some human cancers was also later supported, specifically by the discovery of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. These two retroviruses cause rare cases of leukemia and lymphomas -- the Epstein-Barr virus, which is linked to Burkitt's lymphoma and to cancer of the nose and mouth, and the hepatitis B virus, which can cause liver cancer. Dr. Gross's research also influenced the discovery of the AIDS virus.

Among the several prizes and honors which Gross received are the R.R. de Villiers Foundation (Leukemia Society) Award for Leukemia Research (1953), the Walker Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London (1961), the Pasteur Silver Medal of the Pasteur Institute in Paris (1962), the WHO United Nations Prize for Cancer Research (1962), the Bertner Foundation Award (1963), the Special Virus Cancer Program Award of the National Cancer Institute (1972), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1974), the Principal 1978 Paul Ehrlich-Ludwig Darmstaeder Prize in Frankfurt, and the Griffuel Prize in Paris (1978). In 1973 Gross was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In recognition of his scientific accomplishments, he received the French Legion of Honor (1977).

Dr. Gross died of stomach cancer in July of 1999 at the age of 94

Collection Summary

Biographical material, correspondence, laboratory notebooks, writings and photographs document the research career of Ludwik Gross (1908-1999; 12 linear feet), best known for proving that viruses could cause cancer in animals. The biographical materials primarily document his many awards, most significantly the 1974 Lasker Award, as well as some general information about Gross's life and career. The correspondence series contains extensive professional communication with colleagues, but there is little personal correspondence to be found in any part of the collection. Gross's laboratory notebooks are detailed and relatively comprehensive, but few properly indicate the exact nature of the experiment, thus making it difficult to follow his laboratory and research process for any particular experiment. Reprints of published material and book drafts relating to the process of his experiments can be found in the writings series, providing insight into the various areas of research that interested Dr. Gross. Much of the correspondence in this series consists of general editorial commentary between writer and publisher. Subject files reflect the wide variety of approaches Gross took to formulate his research hypotheses. Photographs and ephemera are both personal and research related.


Personal papers of Ludwik Gross, Lasker-Award winning cancer research pioneer who proved that viruses could cause cancer in animals.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine


Gift, Augusta H. Gross, M.D., July 2000, Acc. 2000-037.

Gift, Augusta H. Gross, M.D., November 2023, Acc. 2023-007.

Separated Material

  1. Academie des Sciences, Séance du 4 Mai 1931, 1931
  2. Achong, B.G. and M.A. Epstein, Fine Structure of the Burkitt Tumor, 1966
  3. Archiv für GeschwulstforschungBd. 1- 1949- Ceased with: Bd. 61, 1991. Dresden, Steinkopff. Dresden Verlag Theodor Steinkoppf
  4. Barraud, Jean. Problèmes d'organisation et de fonctions chez les bactéries et les virus .... Paris, Masson, 1958.Exposés actuels de biologie cellulaire, 1958
  5. Bernhard, W., Electron Microscopy of Tumor Cells and Tumor Viruses. A Review., 1958
  6. Bernhard, W., Elektronenmikroskopischer Beitrag zum Studium der Kanzerisierung und der malignen Zustande der Zelle, 1961
  7. Bernard, Claude. Introduction a l'étude de la médecine expérimentale. Paris, Ch. Delagrave, 1903.
  8. Bernhard, W. et P. Tournier., Modification Persistante des Mitochondries dans des Cellules Tumorales de Hamster Transformees par L'Adenovirus 12, 1966
  9. Besredka, A. The story of an idea: E. Metchnikoff's work: embryo genesis, inflammation, immunity, aging, pathology, Philosophy Bend, Or. : Maverick Publications, 1979.
  10. Burrows, William. Textbook of bacteriology. Philadelphia, W. B. Saunders, 1949.
  11. Buynak, Eugene et al, Vaccine Against Hepatitis B, 1976
  12. B.W. & Co. Products. For the Treatment of Neoplastic Diseases. Burroughs Wellcome & Co.
  13. Ciba Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. The rauwolfia story, from primitive medicine to alkaloidal therapy. Summit, N. J., 1954
  14. Duclaux, Emile, Association des microbiologistes de langue française. Institut Pasteur (Paris, France) Société française de microbiologie. Société française d'immunologie.Ann Inst Pasteur (Paris)
  15. Thelma B. Dunn. "Normal and Pathologic Anatomy of the Reticular Tissue in Laboratory Mice," A Publication of the U.S Department of Health, Education, Welfare Public Health Service National Institute of Health, June 1954.
  16. Epstein, M.A. and Y.M. Barr, Characteristics and Mode of Growth of a Tissue Culture Strain (EB1) of Human Lymphoblasts from Burkitt's Lymphoma, 1965
  17. Epstein, M.A., B.G. Achong et al, Morphological and Virological Investigations on Cultured Burkitt Tumor Lymphoblasts (Strain Raji), 1966
  18. Fenner, Frank The biology of animal viruses. New York, London, Academic Press 1968-
  19. Ferrer, Jorge F. Antigenic Comparison of Bovine Type C Virus with Murine and Feline Leukemia Viruses,1972
  20. Ferrer, Jorge F. Serological Detection of Type C Viruses Found in Bovine Cultures, 1972
  21. Furness, Franklin N. Francis S. Stahl. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. "Subcellular Particles in the Neoplastic Process." New York Oct 21, 1957
  22. Gibson, Don C. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.) New Orleans Conference on the Rodent as a Model System for Research in Aging (1970). "Development of the rodent as a model system of aging." Bethesda, Md., National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. DHEW publication; no. (NIH) 72-121, etc.
  23. Fraumeni, Joseph F. Persons at high risk of cancer: an approach to cancer etiology and control: proceedings of a conference Key Biscayne, Florida, December 10-12, 1974. New York: Academic Press, 1975.
  24. Granboulan, Nicole et al., Electron Microscope Study of the Development of SV40 Virus, 1963
  25. Granboulan, Nicole, Joseph Huppert and Fanny Lacour, Examen au Microscope Electronique du RNA du Virus de la Myeloblastose Aviaire, 1966
  26. Granboulan, Philippe, Nicole Granboulan et Wilhelm Bernhard, Application de L'Autoradiographie a la Microscopie Electronique, 1962
  27. Gross, Ludwik, Oncogenic viruses. New York, Pergamon Press, 1961.
  28. Gross, Ludwik. Siewcy chorób i smierci. Warszawa, Trzaska, Evert i Michalski [1947] Biblioteka wiedzy, t. 49
  29. Hagenau, F., R.A. Bonaire et al, Ultrastructure of the Rabbit Papiloma Virus, 1959
  30. Harris, R.J.C., Aetiology of Central African Lymphomata, 1964
  31. Heiniger, Hans-Jörg. Handbook on genetically standardized JAX mice. Bar Harbor, Me. : Jackson Laboratory, 1980-
  32. Hilleman, M.R., Yeast Recombinant Hepatitis B Vaccine, 1987
  33. Hilleman, Maurice R., Whither Immunization Against Viral Infections?, 1984
  34. Hilleman, Maurice R., Vaccinology in Practical Perspective, 1985
  35. Hilleman, Maurice R., The Science of Vaccines in Present and Future Perspective, 1986
  36. Hilleman, Maurice R., Perspectives in the Quest for a Vaccine Against AIDS, 1988
  37. Hilleman, Maurice R., Herpes Simplex Vaccines, 1976
  38. Hitchings, George H., Chemotherapy and Comparative Biochemistry: G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Lecture, 1969
  39. Hoogstraten, Jan, Observations on Burkitt's Tumour in Central and Northern Canada, 1967
  40. Institut Pasteur., Annales. Tome 104, 1964
  41. Institut Pasteur., Annales. Tome 107, 1964
  42. Institut Pasteur Service des Archives. Inventaire du fonds d'archives. Paul-Louis Simond
  43. Lacassagne, A., Sur Les Cancers Glandulaires d'Origine Hormonale, 1959
  44. Lancet, the, February 1, 1964, 1964
  45. Latta, Harrison, Collagen in Normal Rat Glomeruli, 1961
  46. Lepine, Pierre, Rage et Virus Rabique -- Problemes d'Aujourd'hui, 1966
  47. Lepine, Pierre, Cancer et Virus, 1963
  48. Lunger, Philip D., Isolation and Morphology of the Lucke Frog Kidney Tumor Virus, 1974
  49. Lunger, Philip D., Amphibia-Related Viruses, 1966
  50. Lwoff, A., Interaction Among Virus, Cell and Organism, 1966
  51. Lwoff, A., The Concept of Virus, 1958
  52. Lwoff, A., From Protozoa to Bacteria and Viruses. Fifty Years with Microbes, 1971
  53. Lwoff, A., Lysogeny, 1953
  54. Martinez-Palomo, A. and N. Granboulan, Electron Microscopy of Adenovirus 12 Replication, 1967
  55. Miner, Roy Waldo. "Viruses as Causative Agents in Cancer." Annals of New York Academy of Science. New York, July 10, 1952
  56. McAleer, Williiam J et al, Human Hepatitis B Vaccine From Recombinant Yeast, 1984
  57. Modern Medicine, June 7, 1965, 1964
  58. Nature, Vol. 216, No. 5117 re: African Lymphoma Spread by Virus?, 1967
  59. New York (State) Dept. of Health. Division of Laboratories and Research. Laboratory manual for physicians; aids in diagnosis and treatment. 13th ed. Albany, 1967.
  60. Pollard, Morris. Gustav Stern Symposium on Perspectives in Virology. "Virus-induced immunopathology." New York, Academic Press, 1968. Perspectives in virology, 6
  61. Proceedings, annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Proceedings, annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Baltimore, Published for Cancer Research, inc., and the American Assn. for Cancer Research by Waverly Pr v. 15-22; Mar. 1974-1981.
  62. Ramon. G., Notice sur les Travaux Scientifiques, 1934
  63. Roche Handb Differ Diagn Roche handbook of differential diagnosis. [Nutley, N. J., Hoffmann-La Roche, c1967?-1991?]
  64. Salomon, J.-Cl., Ultrastructural Aspects of Mouse Tumors Induced by Adenovirus 12, 1967
  65. Simard, R. and W. Bernhard, Phenomene de la Segregation Nucleolaire: Specificite d'Action de Certains Antimetabolites, 1966
  66. Smith, Emil L. Principles of biochemistry : mammalian biochemistry. New York : McGraw-Hill, c1983.
  67. Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures: and a Second Look. The New American Library 1959,1963
  68. Spjut, Harlan J., Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (U.S.). Tumors of bone and cartilage
  69. Stock, Neal and Jorge Ferrer, Replicating C-Type Virus in Phytohemaglutinin-Treated Buffy-Coat Cultures of Bovine Origin, 1972
  70. Stokes, Joseph et al, Trivalent Combined Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine, 1971
  71. Surgery in the United States : a summary report of the Study on Surgical Services for the United States ; sponsored jointly by the American College of Surgeons and the American Surgical Association. [Chicago? : s.n.] 1975.
  72. Tournier, M. Paul, Nicole Granboulan et Wilhelm Bernard, Examen au Microscope Electronique des Cellules de Rein De Cercopitheque Infectees "In Vitro" par le Virus SV 40, 1961
  73. Vaccine, Vol. 4, June 1986, 1986
  74. Washington, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 1971. Universities Associated for Research and Education in Pathology. Atlas of tumor pathology. Second series, fasc. 5
  75. Wintrobe, Maxwell Myer. Wintrobe's clinical hematology. Baltimore : Williams & Wilkins, c1999.
  76. Zourban, Jean, Epidemiologie et Prophylaxie de la Poliomyelite dans les Collecitivites de Jeunes Enfants de la Regio Parisienne, 1964


Processed by
Edwin Staples; John Rees
Processing Completed
2002; 2023
Encoded by
Edwin Staples
Finding Aid to the Ludwik Gross Papers1908-1999
Unverified Partial Draft
Edwin Staples
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

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