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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c362

S. J. Adelstein papers


Records in the S. J. Adelstein papers were generated by Adelstein during his medical training and throughout his professional career as a researcher and administrator for Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. The collection includes: Adelstein’s student notes; correspondence and memoranda; research notes; grant applications; notebooks; datebooks; telephone and meeting logs; and meeting minutes.


  • Creation: 1959-2007 (inclusive),
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1968-1997 .


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation; Series I, Subseries B is restricted for 50 years. The end of the restriction period is noted with each folder. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to consult Public Services for further information concerning retrieval of material.

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.


18 cubic feet (18 records center cartons)
12.6 cubic feet (Unprocessed papers in 12 records center cartons, 1 letter size document box, and 1 half letter size document box.)

The S. J. Adelstein papers reflect Adelstein’s work as a medical student, researcher, and administrator at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. The collection is divided into two series: Series I, Professional Records, 1959-2007, and Series II, Student Notes, 1951-1953, the bulk of which consists of professional correspondence and records generated during the years Adelstein served as Harvard Medical School's Dean of Academic and Clinical Programs and was establishing and administering programs in nuclear medicine (including a grant-funded program between Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 1970s and early 1980s). The papers demonstrate Adelstein’s involvement with professional organizations, including the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, the Whitaker Foundation (an organization originally dedicated to funding interdisciplinary medical research with a focus in biomedical engineering that now focuses on funding international collaborations between young biomedical engineers), and the Institute of Medicine. Also included are materials reflecting his involvement with groups conducting site visits to institutions such as the Brookhaven National Laboratory on behalf of Associated Universities, Inc., the group responsible for the management and oversight of research projects at Brookhaven at that time. The collection also reflects Adelstein’s work with Bert L. Vallee, a researcher on alcohol dependency and zinc enzymes at the Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences and Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The collection also contains correspondence, including letters of reference and recommendation issued by Adelstein throughout his career as a researcher and an administrator and reviews of manuscripts conducted during Adelstein’s time as an editor of the Radiation Research Society's journal, Radiation Research.

Records are entirely in English.

Biographical Notes

S. J. Adelstein (born 1928), B.S. and M.S., 1949, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.D., 1953, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Ph.D., 1957, MIT, is Paul C. Cabot Distinguished Professor of Medical Biophysics and Quondam Daniel C. Tosteson University Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Senior Radiologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Adelstein's clinical interests include the diagnosis and experimental treatment of cancer, technology transfer and assessment, and radionuclide dosimetry. His research concerns the molecular and cellular effects of radiation, the radiation chemistry of biomolecules, the characterization of DNA damage from ionizing radiation, cellular responses to Auger electron-cascades and other densely ionizing radiation, and targeted radionuclide therapy and imaging.

Stanley James Adelstein was born in New York City, New York, on 24 January 1928. He graduated from MIT with a B.S. and M.S. in 1949, completed his M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1953, and received his Ph.D. in biophysics from MIT in 1957. While in medical school, he was a research assistant in biology (1950-1951). He completed his internship and residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston. From 1954 to 1957, Adelstein was a fellow of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in MIT's Department of Biology. During the same period, he was also a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School (1956-1957). After completion of his Ph.D. in biophysics, he continued his training in internal medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and as a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston (1957-1958). Between 1958 and 1959, he held the Moseley Traveling Fellowship of Harvard University in the Department of Radiotherapeutics at Cambridge University in England. From Cambridge, he moved to the Henry A. and Camillus Christian Fellowship at the Harvard Medical School (1959-1960) and became Chief Medical Resident at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

In 1960, Adelstein began his work on radiation biophysics as a member of the Department of Anatomy at Harvard Medical School. Shortly afterward, he was appointed the Philip H. Cook Fellow in Radiology at Harvard (1960-1968). His research in this capacity focused on radiation-induced changes in biological macromolecules, enzymes, and nucleoproteins. Concurrently, he continued his teaching radiology and internal medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. With his subsequent appointment in 1968 to Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, he began to build a program in nuclear medicine that brought together education, research, and service. The nuclear medicine program debuted at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women's Hospital), then grew to include Children's Hospital, Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

In addition to his research work, Adelstein has served as Chief of the Nuclear Medicine Services at Children's Hospital (1970-1978), Director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (1968-1992), and director of the Joint Program in Nuclear Medicine, a collaborative effort among a core of Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals. In 1968, Adelstein began research at the Shields Warren Radiation Laboratories, Harvard Medical School. His work at the Shields Warren labs continued throughout his career. In 1978, Adelstein joined the administration of the Harvard Medical School as Executive Dean for Academic Programs in the Faculty of Medicine (1978-1997). During his tenure, he implemented new procedures for permanent faculty appointments. He assisted Dean Daniel C. Tosteson in setting up the faculty process for examining and changing the medical student curriculum and worked on the reorganization of social-science-related faculty units, including social medicine, health care policy, ambulatory care, and prevention. While Dean for Academic Programs, Adelstein was the director of the M.D.-Ph.D. Program (1978-1982); Chairman of the Division of Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University (1978-1979); Paul C. Cabot Professor of Medical Biophysics (1989-1997); and Senior Radiologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital (1992-). Although no longer dean, Adelstein remains a member of the Faculty of Medicine as the Daniel C. Tosteson University Professor (1997-).

Throughout his scientific career, Adelstein has been concerned with radiation protection in medicine, serving as Director and then as Vice-President of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and chairing the committees responsible for its research agenda and basic radiation protection criteria. He has also served as director of the Whitaker Health Sciences Fund and director of the Harvard Community Health Plan Foundation. His interest in the interface of physical sciences and engineering with medicine and life sciences led to his involvement in, and co-chair with George Benedek, of an Institute of Medicine committee focused on promoting research collaboration (1987-1990). He continued his work with the Institute as Chairman of the Committee on Biomedical Isotopes (1993-1995). Adelstein has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Investigative Radiology, and Radiation Research. He has been involved with a number of distinguished scientific societies, including the Biophysical Society, the Association for Radiation Research, the Radiation Research Society, the American Chemical Society, the American College of Nuclear Physicians,,the Radiologic Society of North America, and the Association of University Radiologists. In 1978 he served as scientific co-chairman of the Second International Congress of Nuclear Medicine and Biology. He has been a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine since 1968 and, in addition to being a trustee of the organization, has served on several committees including the Scientific Program Committee, Publications Committee, Scientific Affairs Committee, Finance Committee, Committee on Public Health and Efficacy, and Committee on the Future. He served on the American Board of Nuclear Medicine from 1972 to 1978 and was the Board’s secretary (1975-1978).

Adelstein has been the recipient of awards and honors including: Tau Beta Pi (1947); Alpha Omega Alpha (1952); Sigma XI (1957); Quitman Lecturer, Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel (1980); elected fellow, American College of Nuclear Physicians (1981); annual orator, New York Roentgen Society (1982); Herman L. Blumgart Award, Society of Nuclear Medicine (1983); elected member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (1985); Paul Aebersold Award, Society of Nuclear Medicine (1986); elected fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1987); and Walter Dandy Lecturer, The Johns Hopkins Medical School (1996).

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Professional Records, 1959-2007.
  2. ___ A. Correspondence, 1972-1997.
  3. ___ B. Harvard University Activities Records, 1959-2007.
  4. ___ C. “Radiation Research” Editorial Records, 1989-1994.
  5. ___ D. Subject Files, 1966-1997.
  6. II. Student Notes, 1951-1953.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Accession 2011-112.

The records were gifted by S. J. Adelstein to the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, May 2011.

Associated Records

  1. Records of theJoint Program in Nuclear Medicine. M-CD06.01, Series 00366.

Related Records in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

  1. Records of the Harvard Medical School. Office of the Dean for Academic and Clinical Programs. RG M-AP01 Series 00218, 00219, 00220, 00221, 00222, 00223, 00224, 00225.

Processing Information

Processed in June 2011 by Hanna Clutterbuck using box and folder lists prepared by Craig MacDonald, Spring 2011.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine refoldered and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access. Where folder titles existed in the original collection, they were transcribed onto new folders; new titles were created as necessary for unfoldered or untitled material. The physical order of the collection is as it was accessioned. For ease of access, Series II. Student Notes, 1951-1953, was put into chronological order by year and then in alphabetical order by subject. Materials from the Joint Program in Nuclear Medicine and the Harvard University Research Policy Committee were removed for separate processing; materials related to the Shields Warren Radiation Laboratories were removed and processed as an accrual to the records of the Harvard Medical School's Office of the Dean for Academic and Clinical Programs.



Adelstein, S. J. Papers, 1959-2007 (inclusive), 1968-1997 (bulk): Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description
The S. J. Adelstein papers were processed with funding from the donor.

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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