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Finding Aid for the William J. Dreyer Papers 1955-2006
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The consulting files, patent files and correspondence, and a selection of working papers, general correspondence, and biographical papers of the biochemist William J. Dreyer, known as the William J. Dreyer Papers in the California Institute of Technology Archives. A specialist in molecular immunology, Dreyer was professor of biology at Caltech from 1963 until his death in 2004. At Caltech he was involved in the creation of a series of automated instruments for high-sensitivity protein sequencing. He held over 20 patents and was influential in the creation of the biotechnology industry.
William Jakob Dreyer was born in Michigan and raised in Wisconsin and Oregon, with extended periods of visiting in Norway, his father's homeland. He attended Reed College (BA 1952) and the University of Washington (PhD in biochemistry, 1956). Early in his career he became interested in the molecular basis of development and heredity, and he also pioneered instruments that automated chemical analyses. After a period at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he worked with C. Anfinsen, G. Streisinger, and M. Nirenberg, he took a professorial appointment at Caltech in the biology division in 1963. His early work at Caltech centered on investigations of genetic coding for protein structure using immunological techniques. He proposed that genes could be reshuffled to provide additional information for the formation of proteins. With Leroy Hood and later Michael Hunkapillar he worked on the design of an automated protein sequencer and was associated with the founding of the company Applied Biosystems. Dreyer also consulted with many other biotech companies and held upwards of 20 patents on biochemical apparatus and processes. He maintained a life-long interest in the human brain and how genes program behavior. Dreyer was an early member of Caltech's innovative Beckman Institute and an enthusiastic promoter of computer imaging for biological investigations.
15.25 linear feet
Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access. One file within general correspondence is closed for privacy reasons.