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Register of the William J. Rutter Papers
MSS 94-54  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Rutter Collection consists of 12 cartons and 1 manuscript box containing files primarily documenting his association with the University of California at San Francisco (1969-1994) as professor of biochemistry, department chair and lab director including associated professional commitments: membership in professional organizations, work on advisory boards, and consulting. Some material on his involvement in the Biotech industry is included, although there is little or no evidence of Chiron activities. Chiron was co-founded by Rutter and Edward Penhoet in 1981. The papers include administrative and professional correspondence, subject files, some financial and personnel documents, minutes and agendas, conference materials and other materials that he produced during his career at UCSF.
Background
[This biographical statement is based primarily on information in extensive interviews with Dr. Rutter conducted in 1992-1993. Editing in progress; transcripts to be deposited in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Archives, Special Collections, UCSF Library.]
[This biographical statement is based primarily on information in extensive interviews with Dr. Rutter conducted in 1992-1993. Editing in progress; transcripts to be deposited in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Archives, Special Collections, UCSF Library.] Rutter became interested in parasitic diseases in high school after listening to his grandfather's descriptions of the tropical diseases he had observed as a British Military officer in India. He graduated from Harvard intending do go on to medical school, but after auditing medical school classes at the University of Utah, he decided to concentrate on the research sciences. He received a master's degree from Utah in 1950 and then a Ph.D. in 1952 at the University of Illinois. At the University of Illinois, Rutter completed a dissertation on galactosemia, a metabolic disease.In 1965 UCSF began attempts to recruit Rutter as chairman of the biochemistry department. Worried that administrative duties would restrict his research, he hesitated for four years. At the time, medical schools were not considered ideal settings to pursue research in molecular biology. However, in the mid 1960's, Holly Smith, head of Medicine, J. Englebert Dunphy, head of Surgery, and others decided to improve basic science at UCSF, and saw Rutter as one who could lead this endeavor. Rutter was also attracted by a large number of open positions in the department which would allow him to shape its direction.Suggestions of conflict of interest due to of his ties with the biotechnology industry prompted Rutter to step down as chairman in 1982. In 1983 he became director of the Hormone Research Institute (HRI), one of UCSF's independent research units. Succeeding Choh Hao Li, as director, he reoriented research to a molecular approach based on advanced technology. He relinquished the directorship 1989, but remained a member of the institute and head of a lab group. He retired from the university in 1994. Rutter played an active role in the development of the Biotech Industry. His most successful business venture was the establishment of Chiron, founded by Rutter and his former Stanford colleague, Ed Penhoet, in 1981. Chiron became one of the major biotechnology firms in the San Francisco Bay Region: In 1991 Chiron merged with Cetus, another local biotech firm. Rutter's success with Chiron placed him on a list of "Molecular Millionaires" issued by Genetic Engineering News in 1987, which reported him as holding Chiron stock worth over 20 million dollars. Rutter has been Chairman of the Board since the company's founding.Rutter also served as Treasurer of the American Society of Biological Chemists (1970-1976), as President of the Pacific Slope Biochemical Conference (1975-76), and as President of the American Society for Developmental Biology (1975-1976). Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1984, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987, Rutter also served on Advisory committees for National Laboratories (Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, the Naval Biosciences Center, and Scripps), International Laboratories (Hagedorn Research Laboratory of the Nordisk Labrotorium, Zentrum fur Molekulare Biologie, and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology) and Foundations (Cystic Fibrosis, March of Dimes, Keystone Life Science Study Center, and California Council on Science and Technology). Service on Boards or Committees also links him to the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Availability
Collection is open for research, except for Subgroup 5, which is restricted.