Article ID: CBB000933111

Scientific Discovery and Scientific Reputation: The Reception of Peyton Rous' Discovery of the Chicken Sarcoma Virus (2010)


Abstract This article concerns itself with the reception of Rous' 1911 discovery of what later came to be known as the Rous Sarcoma Virus (RSV). Rous made his discovery at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research which had been primarily established to conduct research into infectious diseases. Rous' chance discovery of a chicken tumor led him to a series of conjectures about cancer causation and about whether cancer could have an extrinsic cause. Rous' finding was received with some scepticism by the scientific community that held that cancer was not infectious and favored explanations which located the origins of cancer in the inner mechanism of the cell. After 4 years of unsuccessful effort to isolate and further determine the virus Rous felt compelled to discontinue his work on cancer viruses. When 55 years later, the significance of Rous's discovery was attested by the award of the Nobel Prize, it opened up debates about the issues of delayed recognition and scientific reputation. This article also considers why Rous' hypothesis of a viral origin of cancer could not be incorporated into the existing body of knowledge about cancer before the 1950s.

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Authors & Contributors
Medicina Historica
Gershon, Ariel
Giacomo Padrini
Wyn Jones, Gareth
Wyn Jones, Emyr
Wright, James R., Jr.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Medicina Historica
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Medicine Studies
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
University of Texas at Austin
University of Illinois at Chicago
World Scientific
Rowman & Littlefield
Imperial College Press
Nobel Prizes
Cancer; tumors
Discovery in medicine
Disease and diseases
Rous, Fancis Peyton
Joseph Colt Bloodgood
William Stewart Halsted
Castellani, Aldo
Forlanini, Carlo
Virchow, Rudolf Carl
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
United States
New York City (New York, U.S.)
Berlin (Germany)
Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
Johns Hopkins University

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