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Daniel Nathans (1928-1999) was an American molecular biologist whose pioneering work with restriction enzymes provided one of the cornerstones of "the new genetics." His early research advanced scientific understanding of protein synthesis in bacterial viruses. Later, working with tumor viruses, he was the first to demonstrate how recently-discovered restriction enzymes--which recognized specific DNA sequences and cut DNA at those points--could be used to analyze and map a viral genome. Restriction enzymes rapidly became essential tools of molecular biology, enabling much faster gene sequencing and mapping, as well as recombinant DNA technology. Nathans received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this work.
The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions is the repository for the Daniel Nathans Papers, which range from 1951 to 1999. The collection contains correspondence, laboratory notebooks, photographs, reprints, and reports.
As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has collaborated with the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to digitize and make available over the World Wide Web a selection of the Daniel Nathans Papers for use by educators and researchers. This site provides access to the portions of the Daniel Nathans Papers of the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions that have been selected for digitization. Individuals interested in conducting research in the Daniel Nathans Papers are invited to contact the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
This online Exhibit is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Nathans's scientific career and professional life. It is divided into sections that focus on Nathans's life and major scientific contributions. We suggest that new visitors begin with this exhibit, which includes a small selection of documents and visuals, organized within these sections. Each section begins with a "Background Narrative," which leads to "Documents" and "Visuals."
Visitors may access additional materials through Search on the navigation bar. They may also view the materials alphabetically or chronologically by choosing Browse on the navigation bar. Documents and visuals in these lists are arranged by format and then either alphabetically by title or chronologically.