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Murray J. Shear Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS C 548

Abstract

Correspondence, reports, minutes, reprints documenting Dr. Shear's professional activities with the National Cancer Institute, including interaction with the International Union Against Cancer and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Dates

  • 1908-1983

Extent

27.6 Linear Feet (24 boxes)

Creator

Physical Location

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

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English

Restrictions

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

Copyright and Re-use Information

Donor's copyrights were transferred to the public domain. Archival collections often contain mixed copyrights; while NLM is the owner of the physical items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. It is the user's responsibility to research and understand any applicable copyright and re-publication rights not allowed by fair use. NLM does not grant permissions to publish.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Biographical Note

Dr. Murray J. Shear spent the bulk of his career researching substances and methods which might prove effective in the eradication of cancer. He was a member of the National Cancer Institute's inaugural staff and he actively participated in international cancer organizations.

Born on November 7, 1899 in Brooklyn, NY, Murray Jacob Shear developed an early interest in philosophy. While attending the City College of New York for his Bachelor's degree, he became interested in physical chemistry and research. He saw a philosophic basis for scientific research in the sense that research provided information upon which a philosophy could be constructed. Indeed, he felt that any philosophy was possible only upon an examination of information and knowledge.

From that point Shear followed the path of science, earning his Masters and Doctoral degrees in chemistry at Columbia University. Upon graduation, he turned down lucrative positions with industrial companies to follow his own interests. His guiding purpose for being a research chemist was his own personal curiosity. He took a position at Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn where he concentrated on bone formation in rickets and the deposition of bone salts in children. He left when pressure to assume management roles threatened his devotion to research.

His work with cancer began when he joined the U.S. Public Health Service's cancer research division, located at Harvard, in 1931. This group of scientists formed the nucleus of what would become the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1939. He began investigating calcium's effect on cancer tumors and progressed to studying the ameliorative effects of bacterial toxins on cancerous tumors. During the 1940s and 1950s his experiments with a purified filtrate of bacillus prodigiosus, or Serratia marcescens (polysaccharide) excited much scientific interest.

His chemical approach to the study of cancer eradication marked him as an early leader in the field of chemotherapy. Shear remained with NCI until his retirement in 1969 and served as the laboratory chief of Clinical Pharmacology from 1951 to 1964. During his career he also served as president of the American Association of Cancer Research, secretary general of the International Union Against Cancer (IUAC), and chairman of the IUAC's Chemotherapy Committee.

Dr. Shear died in Bethesda on September 17, 1983.

Collection Summary

Contains reprints, correspondence, reports, minutes, clippings, newsletters, and photographs which cover his entire professional career. Included are lists of Dr. Shear's publications along with his bound reprints (1932-1969) and reprints signed to him by other scientists. Correspondence covers his entire professional career (1925-1971) with emphasis on NCI and IUCC-related activities. There is very little personal correspondence. Scattered reports are primarily produced by NCI, NIH, and IUCC. Also present are NCI and IUCC meeting minutes and various international cancer conference guides and notes.

Abstract

Correspondence, reports, minutes, reprints documenting Dr. Shear's professional activities with the National Cancer Institute, including interaction with the International Union Against Cancer and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Physical Location

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

Provenance

Gift, Mrs. Rose Shear, 11/30/1983, and Dr. John Long, 9/12/2002. Acc. #356, 2002-080.

General

Processed by
James Labosier
Processing Completed
January 2005
Encoded by
James Labosier
Title
Finding Aid to the Murray J. Shear Papers, 1908-1983
Status
Unverified Partial Draft
Author
James Labosier
Date
Januray 2005
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latn
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement
1.0

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

Contact:
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