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COLLECTION Identifier: RG M-SD08, Series 00377

Harvard Medical School. Department of Pharmacology records

Overview

The Records of the Department of Pharmacology consist of correspondence, committee records, grant records, and departmental reports produced by the Department of Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, during the tenure of Otto Krayer as head of the department.

Dates

  • 1938-1974 (inclusive).

Creator

Language of Materials

Records are in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. University policy restricts access to unpublished records for 50 years from creation. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series I-III. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Records 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.

Extent

4 cubic feet (4 records center cartons)
0.04 cubic feet (unprocessed records in 1 folder)
The Records of the Department of Pharmacology consist of correspondence, committee records, grant records, and departmental reports produced by the Department of Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, during the tenure of Otto Krayer as head of the department. The records contain Krayer’s correspondence detailing the research activities and day-to-day administration of the Department of Pharmacology, records from committees on which Krayer served, records from grants in which Krayer was the lead investigator, as well as reports on departmental plans and activities made to administrators at the medical school.

The Records of the Department of Pharmacology consist of four series: I. Correspondence; II. Harvard Medical School Committee Records; III. Grants; IV. Reports.

Materials are in English and German.

Historical Note on the Department of Pharmacology

The Department of Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School was created in 1902, having originated in the Department of Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Reid Hunt (1870-1948) arrived at Harvard in 1913 and served as Professor of Pharmacology and head of the Department of Pharmacology until 1936. Otto Krayer (1899-1982) first came to Harvard Medical School in 1936, as the representative of American University Beirut to Harvard University’s tercentenary celebration. He stayed on at Harvard Medical School that fall as a visiting lecturer in pharmacology and in 1937 was appointed Associate Professor of Pharmacology. In 1939 he became Associate Professor of Comparative Pharmacology and Head of the Department of Pharmacology.

As head of the department, Krayer was known for emphasizing collaboration among his staff and maintaining a balance between the department’s teaching and research functions. He also recognized the importance of incorporating other fields - biochemistry, physiology, psychology – into pharmacological research, in order to study the full range of effects. Krayer’s primary research focus during his tenure was cardiac pharmacology and veratrum alkaloids, and he was noted for his skill in using the Starling heart-lung preparation. Additionally, influenced by B. F. Skinner, Krayer and department member P. B. Dews explored the behavioral effects of drugs and helped to legitimize it as a field of study within pharmacology.

While at Harvard Medical School, Krayer was successful in developing talent in the department. Seventeen staff members went on to head academic and administrative departments, including twelve in pharmacology. Krayer also led the recruitment of neurobiologist Stephen Kuffler (1913-1980) to Harvard Medical School. In 1959 Kuffler and his laboratory became part of the Department of Pharmacology, and after Krayer’s retirement in 1966, the Department of Neurobiology was created, with Kuffler as its head. Two members of Kuffler’s laboratory, David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel, went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1981. At the time of Krayer’s retirement in 1966, the department was ranked first in the country by the American Council on Education. However, due to a shift in focus by the administration at the medical school, the department declined after Krayer's departure as preference was given to the field of molecular biology.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Correspondence, 1938-1974, undated
  2. II. Harvard Medical School Committee Records, 1939-1968
  3. III. Grants, 1955-1966
  4. IV. Reports, 1945-1957, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Accession number 2012-044.

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

  1. Records of the Dean, George Packer Berry. Rare Books Uncat.
  2. Papers of Otto Krayer. H MS c220.

Processing Information

Processed by Bryan Sutherland, December 2011.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals.
Link to catalog
Title
Harvard Medical School. Department of Pharmacology. Records, 1938-1974 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Author
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
EAD ID
med00157

Repository Details

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

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