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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c372

Arthur B. Pardee papers


The Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, are the product of Pardee’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities throughout the course of his career. The papers are arranged in three series: I. Research Notes, 1949-1992; II. Slides, 1975-2001, undated; and III. Electronic Records, 1991-2001, undated.


  • Creation: 1949-2001


Language of Materials

Papers are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series III. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Access to electronic records in this collection (as found in Series III) is also subject to the above restrictions. Additionally, access is premised on the availability of a computer station, requisite software, and/or the ability of Public Services staff to review and/or print out records of interest in advance of an on-site visit.

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.


03.33 cubic feet (3 records center cartons and 1 oversize slide box)
0.5 gigabytes* (50 3.5 inch floppy disks)
1 cubic feet (unprocessed papers in 1 records center carton)

The Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, are the product of Pardee’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities throughout the course of his career as a professor and researcher, both prior to and during his time at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The papers are arranged in three series: I. Research Notes, 1949-1992; II. Slides, 1975-2001, undated; and III. Professional Files and Writings, 1991-2001, undated.

Series I is made up primarily of raw research data and notes, in the form of research notebooks kept by Pardee and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, Virus Laboratory and at the Moffett Laboratory at Princeton University. Presentation slides containing textual information, charts, and graphs, make up Series II; these slides both appear to have been created and used by Dr. Pardee during professional and educational lectures and by other colleagues or students. Series III consists of electronic files kept on floppy disks, which contain evidence of Pardee’s professional work, writings, and correspondence, as well as some material created by others and collected by Pardee.

Papers in each of these series relate to Pardee’s scientific research concerns within microbiology and molecular pharmacology, including messenger RNA, proteins and the ribosome cycle, E. coli, DNA and PNA calibration, DNA inhibition and replication, DNA synthesis and gene expression, the cell cycle, the bacterial cycle, streptomycin transport, breast cancer markers, anti-cancer therapies, cell proliferation, caffeine, cDNA, AIDS, beta-lapachone, and cycloheximidae. Writings relate to Pardee’s work towards the early detection of cancer and other diseases, such as AIDS, and disorders including schizophrenia. Among the records are grant applications and renewals that discuss research methods, interests, and goals for work in Dr. Pardee’s laboratory at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The Papers are entirely in English.

Biographical Notes

Arthur B. Pardee (1921-2019), B.S., 1942, University of California, Berkeley; M.S., 1943, Ph.D., 1947, California Institute of Technology, was an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and former Chief of Cell Growth and Regulation at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Pardee was known for his theoretical and technical contributions to the fields of molecular biology and cancer research, particularly developments related to the understanding and manipulation of cell growth and reproduction.

Pardee was born on July 13, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois. After graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, he received a Merck Post-doctoral Fellowship to work under Van R. Potter II (1911-2001) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He returned to the University of California, Berkeley, initially as an Instructor in 1949 and later as an Associate Professor of Chemistry, becoming increasingly interested in cancer and enzyme regulation following the death of his mother from cancer. During the 1950s, Pardee spent several years teaching and working in the influential Virus Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, where much of his early research focused on the mechanism of feedback inhibition at the biochemical level. While working at the Virus Laboratory, Pardee made the discovery of mRNA in 1953 as well as the presence of ribosomes in bacteria in 1952. In 1957, Pardee took a sabbatical and worked with Francois Jacob (1920-2013) and Jacques Monod (1910-1976) at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, where they carried out the “PaJaMo” experiment, which demonstrated that gene expression is regulated by a repressor mechanism. In 1961, Pardee became a Professor of Biochemical Sciences at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, where he later identified the restriction point, or “Pardee point,” which is a point in a cell cycle in the “G1” Phase where the cell commits to moving to the “S” Phase. He published this finding in 1974, defining the discovery as a restriction point for control of normal animal cell proliferation.

Pardee accepted the positions of Professor of Biological Chemistry, Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, and Chief, Division of Cell Growth and Regulation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1975. In the 1980s, Pardee continued his work relating to cancer, identifying certain agents that can uncouple mitosis from the completion of DNA replication, which is lethal to cells. This finding led directly to the emergence of the idea that the cell-cycle is controlled by “checkpoint” proteins, which ensure temporal control of cell-cycle biochemical events. Pardee thus introduced the idea that cancer cell frequently harbor defects in checkpoint proteins, and that checkpoint-abrogating agents might be used to selectively kill cancer cells. In the 1990s, along with Peng Liang, Pardee invented the concept of differential display, which is a method to detect messenger RNAs expressed in a given cell type, which can be used to isolate specific genes. This has since been used to detect genes whose expression has been altered by cancer or other diseases, and was one of the first methods used to detect cancer in its early stages. Pardee retired in 1992, and remained a Professor Emeritus and active author.

Throughout Pardee’s career, beginning in 1948, he published more than 525 scientific articles, and was active with professional organizations and societies as a leader and active member, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Fellow, 1963); the National Academy of Sciences (elected member, 1968); the Institute of Medicine (elected member, 1974); American Society of Biological Chemists (President, 1980); and the American Association for Cancer Research (Board of Directors,1983 to 1986, President, 1985, Fellow, 2013). His work received numerous awards. In 1960, he received the Paul Lewis Award from the American Chemical Society, and in 1973, the Sir H.A. Krebs Medal from the Federation of European Biochemical Societies. He received the Rosenstiel Medal in 1975, the FASEB 3M Award in 1980, and the 1998 Boehringer Mannheim Award. His alma mater, the California Institute of Technology, selected him for the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999.

Pardee married Ruth Sager (February 7, 1918-March 29, 1997) in 1973. She was a Professor of Cellular Genetics in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School and was Chief, Division of Cancer Genetics, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from 1975 until her death from bladder cancer in 1997. Pardee later married Ann B. Goodman, an epidemiologist with whom he has published articles about Alzheimer’s disease. Pardee died on 24 February 2019.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Laboratory notebooks, 1949-1992
  2. II. Slides, 1975-2001, undated
  3. III. Electronic records, 1991-2001, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Arthur B. Pardee papers were gifted to the Center by Arthur B. Pardee in 2011.

  1. Accession number 2012-043. Arthur B. Pardee. 2011 November 22.

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

  1. Papers of Bernard D. Davis. H MS c190.
  2. Papers of Francesc Duran I Reynals. H MS c195.
  3. Papers of Luigi Gorini. MC 319.

General note

  1. Microbiologists

Processing Information

Processed by Elizabeth Coup, 2015 November.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access. Items were removed from three ring binders and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper. Processing staff discarded duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals when possible. All electronic media (as found in Series III) were imaged using Access Data’s FTK and a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device. Records were then transferred to secure storage. Files that could be opened were sampled for content, however, researchers should be aware that not every file in the collection could be opened and assessed. Files for which specific software was needed, but not available to staff at the time of processing, were not reviewed. Regardless of copy status, all original media have been retained.

Pardee, Arthur B. (Arthur Beck), 1921-2019. Papers, 1949-2001: Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Description rules
Language of description
The Arthur B. Pardee papers were processed as a part of the Center's Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project, with funding from a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Library.

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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