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Polynucleotide Synthesizer Model 280, Solid Phase Chemistry Module

Measurements:
overall: 51 cm x 54.3 cm x 33.3 cm; 20 3/32 in x 21 3/8 in x 13 1/8 in
Object Name:
polynucleotide synthesizer
solid phase chemistry module, polynucleotide synthesizer
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Science & Scientific Instruments
Chemistry
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1984.0719.01
Catalog number:
1984.0719.01
Accession number:
1984.0719
Description (Brief):
In the late 1970s the growing field of genetics created a demand for made-to-order short-chain DNA molecules, known as polynucleotides. These designer stretches of DNA were important laboratory tools. Scientists used them both as probes to find specific DNA sequences in a larger genome and as the building blocks of custom genes for genetic engineering. Building polynucleotides by hand in the lab, however, was expensive, time consuming, and boring work.
In December 1980 Vega Biotechnologies introduced the first polynucleotide synthesizer or “gene machine,” which automated production of short DNA chains. The machine lowered the time needed to make a fifteen-base strand of DNA from several months to about a day, greatly reducing the price of customized DNA for research and industry. The instrument consisted of two parts: a chemistry unit and a computer unit. The chemistry unit assembled DNA using solid-phase chemistry techniques. The computer unit controlled the reaction and could be programmed with the desired DNA sequence for synthesis.
Sources:
Joseph A. Menosky, “Cheap, Fast Designer Genes,” The Washington Post, September 6, 1981, C1.
Untitled Essay by Leon E. Barstow, President of Vega Biotechnologies, from Accession File.
Accession File 1984.0719, National Museum of American History.
Location:
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Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Polynucleotide Synthesizer Model 280, Solid Phase Microprocessor/Controller Model 100B

Object Name:
solid phase microprocessor/controller (100B), polynucleotide synthesizer
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Science & Scientific Instruments
Chemistry
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1984.0719.21
Catalog number:
1984.0719.21
Accession number:
1984.0719
Description (Brief):
In the late 1970s the growing field of genetics created a demand for made-to-order short-chain DNA molecules, known as polynucleotides. These designer stretches of DNA were important laboratory tools. Scientists used them both as probes to find specific DNA sequences in a larger genome and as the building blocks of custom genes for genetic engineering. Building polynucleotides by hand in the lab, however, was expensive, time consuming, and boring work.
In December 1980 Vega Biotechnologies introduced the first polynucleotide synthesizer or “gene machine,” which automated production of short DNA chains. The machine lowered the time needed to make a fifteen-base strand of DNA from several months to about a day, greatly reducing the price of customized DNA for research and industry. The instrument consisted of two parts: a chemistry unit and a computer unit. The chemistry unit assembled DNA using solid-phase chemistry techniques. The computer unit controlled the reaction and could be programmed with the desired DNA sequence for synthesis.
Sources:
Joseph A. Menosky, “Cheap, Fast Designer Genes,” The Washington Post, September 6, 1981, C1.
Untitled Essay by Leon E. Barstow, President of Vega Biotechnologies, from Accession File.
Accession File 1984.0719, National Museum of American History.
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Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Electron Microscope Grids and Case

User:
Cohen, Stanley N.
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
copper (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: .3 cm; x 1/8 in
Object Name:
grid, electron microscope
Associated place:
United States: California, Stanford, Stanford
Subject:
Microscopy
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
ID Number:
1987.0757.07.02
Catalog number:
1987.0757.07.02
Accession number:
1987.0757
Description (Brief):
This case held electron microscope (EM) grids used in the lab of Stanley Cohen at Stanford University. Made from tiny circles of copper mesh, EM grids are analogous to the glass slides used to mount samples for viewing under a light microscope. These grids were used to support recombinant bacteria and recombinant plasmids for study and analysis under the electron microscope. One of the grids contains a sample of Cohen and Boyer’s first recombinant plasmid. Photographic images of the first recombinant plasmids used in publications on Cohen and Boyer’s research were made from these grids.
For more information on the Cohen/Boyer experiments with recombinant DNA, see object 1987.0757.01
Sources:
Accession File
“EM Grid Preparation.” Purdue University. Accessed December 2012. http://bilbo.bio.purdue.edu/~baker/documentation/sample_and_prep/b2.htm
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Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Vertical Chamber for Gel Electrophoresis

User:
Cohen, Stanley N.
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
wire (overall material)
red (overall color)
black (overall color)
Measurements:
overall: 21 cm x 19 cm x 17.5 cm; 8 9/32 in x 7 15/32 in x 6 7/8 in
Object Name:
vertical chamber
vertical chamber for gel electrophoresis
Associated place:
United States: California, Stanford, Stanford
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
ID Number:
1987.0757.14
Catalog number:
1987.0757.14
Accession number:
1987.0757
Description (Brief):
This vertical chamber for gel electrophoresis was made in 1974 for the Stanley Cohen lab at Stanford University. Gel electrophoresis was one of the most important tools Cohen and Boyer used to analyze the effects of restriction enzymes on plasmids. The technique allows a way to visualize and isolate molecules by separating them out according to their length using an electrical current (for power supply see object 1987.0757.27).
For more information on the Cohen/Boyer experiments with recombinant DNA see object 1987.0757.01
Sources:
Accession file
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Duostat power supply

User:
Cohen, Stanley N.
Maker:
Beckman Instruments
Physical Description:
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 19 cm x 20.3 cm x 26 cm; 7 15/32 in x 8 in x 10 1/4 in
Object Name:
power supply
Associated place:
United States: California, Stanford, Stanford
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
ID Number:
1987.0757.27
Catalog number:
1987.0757.27
Accession number:
1987.0757
Serial number:
8933
Description (Brief):
This power supply was used in the Stanley Cohen lab at Stanford University to run an electrical current through a vertical chamber for gel electrophoresis (see object 1987.0757.14). Gel electrophoresis was one of the most important tools Cohen and Boyer used to analyze the effects of restriction enzymes on plasmids. The technique allows a way to visualize molecules by separating them out according to their length using an electrical current.
For more information on the Cohen/Boyer experiments with recombinant DNA see object 1987.0757.01
Sources:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Zeiss Opton Refractometer

User:
Cohen, Stanley N.
Maker:
Zeiss
Physical Description:
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 21.7 cm x 33 cm x 16.7 cm; 8 17/32 in x 13 in x 6 9/16 in
overall: 12 in x 14 in x 6 in; 30.48 cm x 35.56 cm x 15.24 cm
Object Name:
refractometer
Place made:
Deutschland
Associated place:
United States: California, Stanford, Stanford
Date made:
1946-1953
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
ID Number:
1987.0757.28
Catalog number:
1987.0757.28
Accession number:
1987.0757
Serial number:
128646
Description (Brief):
This refractometer was used in Stanley Cohen’s lab at Stanford University in his research on recombinant DNA. Refractometers measure how light changes velocity as it passes through a substance. This change is known as the refractive index and it is dependent on the composition of the substance being measured. In the Cohen lab, this refractometer was one of several techniques used to provide evidence that he and his research team had created a recombinant DNA molecule containing DNA from both a bacterium and a frog.
To conduct the analysis, Cohen separated out the molecule he assumed to be recombinant DNA and measured its refractive index. The index for the molecule fell between the known values for frog DNA and bacterial DNA, suggesting that the unknown DNA molecule was a mixture of the two.
For more information on the Cohen/Boyer experiments with recombinant DNA see object 1987.0757.01
Sources:
“Section 9.4.2: Buoyant Density Centrifugation.” Smith, H., ed. The Molecular Biology of Plant Cells. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft796nb4n2/
“Louisiana State University Macromolecular Studies Group How-To Guide: ABBE Zeiss Refractometer.” Pitot, Cécile. Accessed December 2012. http://macro.lsu.edu/howto/Abbe_refractometer.pdf
“Construction of Biologically Functional Bacterial Plasmids In Vitro.” Cohen, Stanley N., Annie C.Y. Chang, Herbert W. Boyer, Robert B. Helling. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. Vol. 70, No. 11. pp.3240–3244. November 1973.
“Replication and Transcription of Eukaryotic DNA in Escherichia coli.” Morrow, John F., Stanley N. Cohen, Annie C.Y. Chang, Herbert W. Boyer, Howard M. Goodman, Robert B. Helling. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. Vol. 71, No. 5. pp.1743–1747. May 1974.
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Light Box

User:
Cohen, Stanley N.
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
black (overall color)
white (overall color)
Measurements:
overall: 7.7 cm x 18.5 cm x 25.7 cm; 3 1/32 in x 7 9/32 in x 10 1/8 in
Object Name:
light box
Associated place:
United States: California, Stanford, Stanford
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
ID Number:
1987.0757.39
Catalog number:
1987.0757.39
Accession number:
1987.0757
Description (Brief):
This UV light box was used in the lab of Stanley Cohen at Stanford University in his research on recombinant DNA. UV light boxes are used to help visualize results from of DNA and RNA analysis through gel electrophoresis. Molecules subjected to gel electrophoresis create a pattern of bands on a gel medium as they move. Scientists can interpret the pattern to obtain the results of the analysis. However, because the bands of molecules are naturally colorless, they must be dyed to be made visible. Dyes that fluoresce under UV radiation are commonly used. This UV light box was used to provide illumination behind the dyed bands, causing them to fluoresce so that they could be photographed and interpreted.
For more information on the Cohen/Boyer experiments with recombinant DNA see object 1987.0757.01
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Protective Jumpsuit

Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 69 in x 34 in x 5 in; 175.26 cm x 86.36 cm x 12.7 cm
Object Name:
protective suit with frost busters logo
Used:
United States: California, Monterey
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Science & Mathematics
Clothing & Accessories
Agriculture
Food
Credit Line:
Advanced Genetic Sciences, Inc
ID Number:
1987.0770.01
Accession number:
1987.0770
Catalog number:
1987.0770.01
Description (Brief):
This jumpsuit was worn by a scientist from Advanced Genetic Systems during the first release of genetically modified microorganisms into the environment approved by the federal government.
The organisms, a genetically modified version of naturally occurring bacteria from the genus Pseudomonas, were sprayed on test fields of strawberry plants in Monterey County, Calif., to increase their resistance to frost.
In nature, Pseudomonas can be found on the surface of many plants. The bacteria contribute to problems with frost on crops because they produce a protein that promotes the formation of ice. In hopes of reducing frost damage to crops, scientist Steve Lindow at the University of California altered the bacteria to stop producing this protein. The University patented these “ice-minus” bacteria and licensed the technology to Advanced Genetic Systems, a company based in Oakland, Calif. AGS hoped to bring the bacteria to market as an ice-proofing spray for crops called “Frostban.”
After careful review, the U.S. government approved field tests of Frostban. Despite the review, public fear of releasing these bacteria into the environment remained. Some scientists raised concerns that the ice-minus bacteria could replace the natural bacterial population. Because of their ice-forming abilities, the natural bacteria play a role in the creation of precipitation. This fact led some to worry that damage to the natural population could have repercussions for rainfall and weather patterns.
Activists against Frostban broke into test fields and uprooted plants to be sprayed several times throughout the field trials. After four years of tests, Frostban was found to be effective in reducing frost damage to crops. Due to continued public discomfort with genetically modified organisms, however, AGS never marketed the product. The company feared that the expense of fighting legal battles to get it to market would outweigh possible profit.
Sources:
“Public Fears Factored Into Gene-Altered Bacteria Tests.” Griffin, Katherine. The Los Angeles Times. April 18, 1988. p. AOC11.
“Bacteria on the Loose.” Fox, Michael W. The Washington Post. November 26, 1985. p. A16.
“Chapter 5: Ecological Considerations.” Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States. Field-Testing Engineered Organisms: Genetic and Ecological Issues. 2002. pp.94–95.
“Chapter 4: The Release of a Genetically Engineered Microorganism.” Schacter, Bernice Zeldin. Issues and Dilemmas of Biotechnology: A Reference Guide. 1999.
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Spray Can

Physical Description:
metal; plastic (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 21 in x 6 1/2 in; 53.34 cm x 16.51 cm
Object Name:
spray can
Subject:
Biotechnology and Genetics
Agriculture
Science & Mathematics
Food
Credit Line:
Gift of the Advanced Genetic Sciences, Inc.
ID Number:
1987.0770.02
Accession number:
1987.0770
Catalog number:
1987.0770.02
Description (Brief):
This spray can was used by scientists from Advanced Genetic Systems to spray bacteria onto strawberry plants in the first release of genetically modified microorganisms approved by the federal government.
For more information, see object 1987.0770.01.
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Arthur Kornberg Symposium Poster

Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 50.8 cm x 76.2 cm; 20 in x 30 in
Object Name:
poster
Date made:
1988
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1990.3199.01
Catalog number:
1990.3199.01
Nonaccession number:
1990.3199
Description (Brief):
This white poster features a red stylized image of DNA replicating and the signature of American biochemist Arthur Kornberg. It advertises the Arthur Kornberg Symposium in May 1988. The year marked the seventieth anniversary of Kornberg's birth. Kornberg is best known for his discoveries relating to the mechanism of DNA replication, including the first isolation of the enzyme DNA polymerase.
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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It's a BioWorld! Poster

Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 68.6 cm x 68.6 cm; 27 in x 27 in
Object Name:
poster
Date made:
ca 1990
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Agriculture
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1990.3203.01
Catalog number:
1990.3203.01
Nonaccession number:
1990.3203
Description (Brief):
This brightly colored poster shows a timeline of events in the history of genetics and biotechnology along the top and bottom edges. Events range from Mendel's experiments with pea plants on heredity in the mid-1800s to the first patent awarded for a genetically engineered mammal in 1988. The left and right edges of the poster list biotech companies and funders. The center of the poster depicts applications of biotechnology to medicine, agriculture, industry, and the environment. It was collected at the International Biotechnology Expo in 1990.
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Iowa's Biotech Express Banner

Physical Description:
vinyl (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 91.4 cm x 386 cm; 35 31/32 in x 151 31/32 in
Object Name:
banner
Used:
United States: Iowa, Ames
United States: Iowa, Iowa City
Date made:
1987
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1991.0396.01
Catalog number:
1991.0396.01
Accession number:
1991.0396
Description (Brief):
In 1987 the Iowa Biotechnology Consortium, a joint effort of Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Economic Development arranged the Iowa Biotech Showcase to promote the state as a center for biotechnology research and industry. At that time Iowa hoped to take advantage of the economic benefits promised by the expanding interest in biotechnology. Representatives from 50 businesses listened to presentations from researchers and agriculture companies about Iowa’s potential for becoming biotech’s answer to Silicon Valley. A train called the Iowa Biotech Express, on which this banner hung, served as a highlight of the event, transporting attendees between two of the state’s major research institutions, the campuses of Iowa State and the University of Iowa.
Sources:
Accession File
“Iowa Ties Rebound to Biotech Express.” Wechsler, Lorraine. The Scientist. October 19, 1987. Accessed online. http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/9038/title/Iowa-Ties-Rebound-to-Biotech-Express/
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Visitor Tag(s):

Drawing, Gene Therapy

Maker:
Cutshall, Cindy
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
pencil (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
white (overall color)
brown (overall color)
purple (overall color)
red (overall color)
green (overall color)
Measurements:
average spatial: 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm; 9 1/32 in x 12 in
overall: 12 in x 9 in; 30.48 cm x 22.86 cm
Object Name:
drawing
drawing, gene therapy
Place made:
United States: Ohio, Canton
Date made:
1991-1992
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Credit Line:
Cindy Cutshall
ID Number:
1992.0072.03
Catalog number:
1992.0072.03
Accession number:
1992.0072
Description (Brief):
In January 1991, at the age of nine, Cindy Cutshall became the second patient to participate in the National Institutes of Health’s first human gene therapy trial. Around the time of her treatment, she made this colored pencil drawing depicting a “good gene” and a “bad gene,” signing the bottom right corner with her initials.
To learn more about the first NIH gene therapy trials, see object 1999.0081.01, the blood cell separator.
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Visitor Tag(s):

ACCELL Gene Gun Protoype

Physical Description:
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
insulated wire (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 29.9 cm x 22.8 cm x 80.6 cm; 11 25/32 in x 8 31/32 in x 31 23/32 in
Object Name:
gene gun
Place made:
United States: Wisconsin, Middleton
Date made:
1986
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0354.01
Catalog number:
1993.0354.01
Accession number:
1993.0354
Description (Brief):
The first gene gun was the brainchild of John Sanford, a plant geneticist working at Cornell in the early 1980s. The invention was a crude but ingenious concept: use the principles of a normal gun to blast DNA-covered microbullets at plant cells, thereby introducing foreign DNA and creating transgenic plants. As word of Sanford’s research spread, genetic engineers at Agracetus, the Middleton, Wisconsin-based biotech firm found their own inspiration.
Spurred by word of Sanford’s gun, Agracetus employees Dennis McCabe and Brian Martinell invented a gene gun of their own in 1986. Cobbled together from scrapped radar station parts McCabe had purchased years earlier from the University of Iowa and potato chip bags from the Agracetus vending machine, the prototype, seen here, utilized a high-voltage electric shock to transform a water droplet into a shock wave that drove DNA-coated microparticles of gold into plant tissue. By April 1988, McCabe and Martinell had used the gun to create the first genetically transformed soybeans. Their success led to a deal with Monsanto to develop RoundUp Ready soybeans.
Over the course of the 1990s, Agracetus developed the prototype gene gun into a marketable product, christening it ACCELL technology for “ACcessing any CELL.” The guns were licensed to Grace and DuPont in April 1992, and by November 1994 Agracetus reached an agreement with Bio-Rad to manufacture and market the guns.
Sources:
“Agracetus: Patenting all transgenic cotton.” Bijman, Jos. Biotechnology and Development Monitor. Vol. 21, Issue 8. 1994.
Charles, Dan. Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and The Future of Food. Cambridge, MA: Basic Books. 2002. p.80­84.
“Particle Gun Transformation of Crop Plants Using Electric Discharge (ACCELL Technology).” Paul Christou and Dennis McCabe. Probe. Vol 2(2): Summer 1992.
“ACCELL Gene Therapy” Informational Pamphlet, Agracetus, Inc. Gene Gun Research Files, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History.
“Agracetus and Bio-Rad Announce Alliance to Manufacture and Market Gene Delivery Instruments.” Press Release, Agracetus, Inc. 11 November 1994.
“Grace and DuPont Cross-License Key Genetic Engineering Technologies.” Press Release, Agracetus, Inc. 20 April 1992.
Location:
Currently not on view
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Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Visitor Tag(s):

Name Tag, Dr. French Anderson

Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
white (overall color)
black (overall color)
Measurements:
average spatial: 2.7 cm x 7.7 cm x .6 cm; 1 1/16 in x 3 1/32 in x 1/4 in
Object Name:
name tag
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0445.02
Catalog number:
1993.0445.02
Accession number:
1993.0445
Description (Brief):
Dr. W. French Anderson wore this name tag during his time as a member of the team conducting the first NIH-approved human gene therapy treatment in September 1990. To learn more, see object 1999.0008.01, the blood cell separator.
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Name Tag, R. Michael Blaese M.D.

Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
white (overall color)
black (overall color)
Measurements:
average spatial: 2.7 cm x 7.7 cm x .6 cm; 1 1/16 in x 3 1/32 in x 1/4 in
Object Name:
name tag
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0445.03
Catalog number:
1993.0445.03
Accession number:
1993.0445
Description (Brief):
Dr. R. Michael Blaese wore this name tag during his time as a member of the team conducting the first NIH-approved human gene therapy treatment in September 1990. To learn more, see object 1999.0008.01, the blood cell separator.
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Visitor Tag(s):

Name Tag, Kenneth Culver M.D.

Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
white (overall color)
black (overall color)
Measurements:
average spatial: 2.7 cm x 7.7 cm x .6 cm; 1 1/16 in x 3 1/32 in x 1/4 in
Object Name:
name tag
Subject:
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0445.04
Catalog number:
1993.0445.04
Accession number:
1993.0445
Description (Brief):
Dr. Kenneth Culver wore this name tag during his time as a member of the team conducting the first NIH-approved human gene therapy treatment in September 1990. To learn more, see object 1999.0008.01, the blood cell separator.
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Syringe

Patient:
DeSilva, Ashanthi Vinod
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
metal (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 16.4 cm x 4 cm x 2.5 cm; 6 15/32 in x 1 9/16 in x 31/32 in
overall: 1 in x 6 1/2 in x 1 1/2 in; 2.54 cm x 16.51 cm x 3.81 cm
Object Name:
syringe
gene therapy
Date used:
1990-09
Associated date:
1990-09-14
Subject:
Health & Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0445.06.01
Catalog number:
1993.0445.06.01
Accession number:
1993.0445
Description (Brief):
In September 1990, four-year-old Ashanti DeSilva became the first patient to participate in the National Institutes of Health’s first human gene therapy trial. Doctors used this syringe in her treatment. To learn more, see object 1999.0008.01, the blood cell separator.
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
See more items in:
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Infusion Bag

Patient:
DeSilva, Ashanthi Vinod
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
paper (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 37 cm x 12.7 cm x 2.2 cm; 14 9/16 in x 5 in x 7/8 in
overall: 1 1/4 in x 5 1/4 in x 15 in; 3.175 cm x 13.335 cm x 38.1 cm
Object Name:
infusion bag
gene therapy
Date used:
1990-09
Associated date:
1990-09-14
Subject:
Health & Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.0445.06.02
Catalog number:
1993.0445.06.02
Accession number:
1993.0445
Description (Brief):
In September 1990, four-year-old Ashanti DeSilva became the first patient to participate in the National Institutes of Health’s first human gene therapy trial. Doctors used this infusion bag in her treatment. To learn more, see object 1999.0008.01, the blood cell separator.
Source:
Accession File
Location:
Currently not on view
See more items in:
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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Additional Online Media:

Syringe

User:
Blaese, R. Michael
Patient:
Riggins, Zachary
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
Measurements:
average spatial: 12.5 cm x 3 cm x 2.1 cm; 4 29/32 in x 1 3/16 in x 13/16 in
overall: 3/4 in x 1 1/4 in x 5 in; 1.905 cm x 3.175 cm x 12.7 cm
Object Name:
syringe
gene therapy
Associated place:
United States: California, San Francisco
Date used:
1993
Associated date:
1993-05
Subject:
Health & Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
ID Number:
1993.3179.01
Catalog number:
1993.3179.01
Nonaccession number:
1993.3179
Description (Brief):
In 1993 doctors administered gene therapy to three-day-old Zachary Riggins at the University of California at San Francisco, using this syringe. Zachary’s treatment was a slight variation on an earlier gene therapy trial first used on Ashanti DeSilva in 1990 (see object 1999.0008.01). Gene therapy refers to a kind of genetic engineering whereby sections of DNA (genes) are introduced into cells in order to treat disease. Zachary suffered from a genetic disorder known as ADA deficiency (also known as ADA-SCID or “bubble boy” syndrome), which led to his having a compromised immune system.
As soon as Zachary was born, doctors harvested blood stem cells from his umbilical cord to be used in gene therapy. They employed a modified virus to insert working copies of the ADA gene into his harvested cells, grew them for some time in the lab, and then injected the modified cells into Zachary’s bloodstream using this syringe. By focusing on stem cells, which are long–lived and give rise to other cells, doctors hoped that the treatment would provide a lasting cure. Previous attempts at gene therapy relied on cells which do not replicate, meaning that patients needed a new round of gene therapy each time the treated cells died off.
While the reintroduced stem cells did remain in the Zachary’s bloodstream for a long time, so few of them had been successfully transformed by the gene therapy that the treatment did not have the hoped-for impact.
Source:
Accession file
“Brave New Babies.” Leon Jaroff. Time Magazine.Vol. 175. No. 21. 31 May 1993.
“Engraftment of gene-modified umbilical cord blood cells in neonates with adenosine deaminase defieciency.” Donald B. Kohn et al. Nature Medicine. Vol. 1, Issue 10. October 1995. p. 1017.
“Gene Therapy: Treating the bubble babies.” Public Health Genetics Unit, Wellcome Trust. 21 November 2002. http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_wtd020936.html
The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It. Ricki Lewis. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2012.
Location:
Currently not on view
See more items in:
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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