Elmer D. Bueker, Ph.D., papers 1933-1995

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Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
History and Special Collections Division for the Sciences
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Box 951798
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Phone: 310/825-6940
Fax: 310/825-0465
Email: biomed-ref@library.ucla.edu
URL: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/biomed/his/
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Descriptive Summary

Title: Elmer D. Bueker, Ph.D., Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1933-1995
Collection number: 437
Creator: Bueker, Elmer D. 1903-1996
Extent: 1 box (0.5 linear ft.)
Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: This small document collection outlines Dr. Bueker's biography and academic life with a curriculum vitae, reprints of publications, and material on faculty appointments and grants. Mainly, however, it focuses on his view of the seminal importance that research he published in 1948 played in the subsequent elucidation of nerve growth factor (NGF) by Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, work for which she won the Nobel Prize. Included is correspondence between Drs. Bueker, Levi-Montalcini, and Victor Hamburger, transcript of a lengthy interview with Dr. Levi-Montalcini, published items referring to the history of NGF research, and notes on the subject by Dr. Bueker and his wife.
Physical location: Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF)
Language of Material: Collection materials in English


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Elmer D. Bueker, Ph.D. Papers (Manuscript collection 437). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.

UCLA Catalog Record ID

UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7304463 

Acquisition Information

The collection was given by Elizabeth A. Bueker (Mrs. Elmer D. Bueker) to the UCLA Neuroscience History Archives in 1998, which subsequently transferred it to the UCLA Biomedical Library.


Elmer D. Bueker (1903-1996) was born and educated in Missouri. After receiving an M.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Colorado he taught high school Biology until 1942, while at the same time studying for a doctorate at Washington University, St. Louis. He received the Ph.D. in Zoology in 1942; his dissertation sponsor was Dr. Victor Hamburger. Dr. Bueker taught Anatomy at South Carolina Medical College, Georgetown University, and University of Missouri Medical School between 1943 and 1955. He moved to the Department of Anatomy at New York University College of Dentistry from 1956 on. Upon compulsory retirement in 1972 he continued as Adjunct Professor until 1978, and as Emeritus Professor of Anatomy until 1985.

Scope and Content

The first five folders of the collection include biographical materials, publications, academic appointments and grants. The papers in the remaining eight folders focus almost entirely on the question of how the history of the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF) was, or should have been, told. Included is correspondence regarding this question, published articles, news reports, marginalia and comments by Dr. Bueker and his wife, and the draft of a lengthy 1988 interview by Omni magazine with Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini after she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986 for the discovery.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Bueker, Elmer D., 1903- 1996 - Archives
Hamburger, Viktor, 1900-2001
Levi-Montalcini, Rita
Nerve Growth Factor - History
Nervous system - anatomy & histology
Nobel Prize --Collected Correspondence

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Portrait of Elmer D. Bueker. circa 1955

Physical Description: 8x10 " photograph, 5x5" negative


portrait taken for "The Savitar" (Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, yearbook), the year he was voted "most popular teacher"
Box 1, Folder 2

Biological sketch/curriculum vitae. 1985

Scope and Content Note

covers biographical facts, professional positions, and bibliography with 53 entries, plus Dr. Bueker's comment on the pioneering significance of his 1948 publication on the identification of nerve growth factor
Box 1, Folder 3

Publications. 1933-1974

Scope and Content Note

reprints and photocopies of journal articles and abstracts
Box 1, Folder 4

Certificate and diploma. 1939, 1942

Scope and Content Note

Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Maine, certificate for Marine Invertebrate Zoology course, 1939; Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology, 1942
Box 1, Folder 5

Academic appointments. 1939-1984

Scope and Content Note

Chicago, Medical School, Instructor, 1942; Medical College, State of South Carolina, Assistant Professor, 1943-1947; Georgetown University, School of Dentistry, Assistant and Associate Professor, 1947-1950; University of Missouri, School of Medicine, Associate Professor, 1950-1955; New York University, College of Dentistry, Associate Professor, Professor, Professor Emeritus, 1954-1984
Box 1, Folder 6

Research grant support. 1944-1961

Scope and Content Note

three reprints (1945-1950), one progress report (1961), and correspondence
Box 1, Folder 7

"Discovery of nerve growth factor", by Elmer D. Bueker. circa 1985

Scope and Content Note

eight-page typed manuscript, plus 19-item bibliography


Dr. Bueker outlines his research into nerve growth factor and his interaction with Victor Hamburger's laboratory (where Rita Levi-Montalcini was a research associate). Dr. Bueker felt that his pioneering work in the field has not been sufficiently credited
Box 1, Folder 8

Drafts of nerve growth factor-related materials. undated

Scope and Content Note

hand-written pages of a lectures and notes about NGF
Box 1, Folder 9

Correspondence with Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini. 1950-1962

Scope and Content Note

exchange of letters which documents the shifting relationship of the authors from collegial cooperation to disputation about priority
Box 1, Folder 10

Correspondence with Dr. Victor Hamburger. 1943-1981

Scope and Content Note

circa 40 letters, mostly between 1943 and 1954, with the majority originating from Dr. Hamburger


Hamburger had sponsored Bueker's dissertation work, and they kept in touch over the years, exchanging information about their research. The relationship remained cordial to the end
Box 1, Folder 11

Symposium on "Nerve Growth Factor and its Antiserum", London. 1970-1971

Scope and Content Note

correspondence, program


Dr. Bueker chaired one of the meeting sessions
Box 1, Folder 12

Materials regarding Dr. Bueker's work on NGF and Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini's Nobel Prize for NGF. 1972-1995

Scope and Content Note

lengthy transcript of 1987 interview with Dr. Levi-Montalcini for Omni Magazine; published articles and news reports referencing Dr. Bueker's NGF work; comments by Elizabeth Bueker, his wife
Box 1, Folder 13

Miscellaneous correspondence. 1943-1989