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COLLECTION — Box: Small Manuscript Collections 01 Identifier: H MS c578

David Steinmuller correspondence with Joseph E. Murray

Scope and Contents

Consists of correspondence between David Steinmuller and Joseph E. Murray dated between 1996 and 1998. The letters are about Steinmuller's review article on skin and organ transplantation (allografts, or grafts from same-species donors). Includes a reprint of Steinmuller's article, The Enigma of Skin Allograft Rejection, from Transplantation Reviews, Vol. 12, No 1 (January), 1998, pp. 42-57.


  • 1996-1998 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Contact Public Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


0.02 cubic feet (1 file folder)

David Steinmuller

David Steinmuller (born 1934), B.A., 1956, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Ph.D., 1961, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a transplantation biologist and immunologist. Early in his career, Steinmuller worked with immunologist Rupert Billingham at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology. He has since held positions at the University of Washington, the Institute for Cancer Research, the University of Utah, the Mayo Medical and Graduate School (now the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences), the University of Michigan, and the University of Iowa. Steinmuller became the first Director of the Histocompatibility Laboratory of the Transplantation Society of Michigan in 1983. He also served as Editor of the journal Transplantation from 1969 to 1997.

Joseph E. Murray

Joseph E. Murray (1919-2012), A.B., 1940, College of the Holy Cross, M.D., 1943, Harvard Medical School, was an organ transplantation pioneer and plastic surgeon. He received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on organ transplantation. Murray served as head of the plastic surgery departments at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Boston, and was a Professor of Surgery and director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School.

Joseph Edward Murray was born on April 1, 1919, in Milford, MA. His father Edward Murray was a lawyer and judge and his mother Mary Murray was a schoolteacher. Murray graduated from Milford High School in 1936. After graduating from Holy Cross in 1940 and Harvard Medical School in 1943, Murray completed his internship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and then entered the Army Medical Corps in 1944. He served at Valley Forge General Hospital during World War II (working with Dr. Bradford Cannon), and it was there, while performing skin grafts on burned soldiers, that Murray first became interested in organ transplantation. After his military service he returned to the Brigham and completed his surgical residency (1947-1951). He completed his plastic surgery residency at New York Hospital in 1951. Murray returned to the Brigham in 1951 as a staff general and plastic surgeon.

Murray became director of the Surgical Research Laboratory (1952-1975), based on the Harvard Medical School Quadrangle. It was here that Murray and his colleagues refined the surgical techniques for kidney transplantation in dogs, which lead to the development of the procedure used for humans. On December 23, 1954, Murray performed the first successful human organ transplantation, between identical twins, Ronald (donor) and Richard (recipient) Herrick, at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Murray achieved two additional milestones in organ transplantation: in 1959, Murray performed the first successful renal transplant between non-identical twins, utilizing total body x-rays to suppression the recipient’s immune system; and in 1962, Murray performed the first cadaveric renal transplantation, employing the newly developed immunosuppressant drug Azathioprine (Imuran). Murray had worked on the drug with Roy Calne, George Hitchings, and Getrude Elion.

Despite his prominent role in the field of organ transplantation, Murray resigned as the chief of transplant surgery at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, to focus on plastic surgery. He served as the head of plastic surgery at the Brigham (1951-1986) and at Children’s Hospital (1972-1985), focusing on craniofacial reconstruction.

During his career Murray was active in professional organizations, serving as a regent for the American College of Surgeons (1970-1979), president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (1969-1970) and President of the Boston Surgical Society (1975). Murray was also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which advises the Vatican on science issues. He also served as chairman of the Harvard Medical School Alumni Fund. Murray suffered a stroke in 1986 and though he made a full recovery, he chose to retire.

Murray married Virginia “Bobby” Link in 1945. They met at Boston Symphony Orchestra recital while Murray was a student at Harvard Medical School. They had six children together; three sons: Richard, J. Link, Thomas; and three daughters: Virginia, Margaret, and Katherine. The family lived in Wellesley, MA and spent summers on Chappaquiddick Island, Martha’s Vineyard. Murray was an avid tennis player and hiker. On Thanksgiving in 2012, Murray suffered a major intra cerebral bleed and died four days later, November 26, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifted to Harvard Medical Library by David Steinmuller in 2019 (Accession #2019-196).

Processing Information

Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook and Charlotte Lellman in June 2021. Collection was processed according to Level 1 protocol.

Steinmuller, David. Correspondence with Joseph E. Murray, 1996-1998 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook, Charlotte Lellman
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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