Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 685–706

Alexander Hollaender’s Postwar Vision for Biology: Oak Ridge and Beyond



Experimental radiobiology represented a long-standing priority for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), but organizational issues initially impeded the laboratory progress of this government-funded work: who would direct such interdisciplinary investigations and how? And should the AEC support basic research or only mission-oriented projects? Alexander Hollaender’s vision for biology in the post-war world guided AEC initiatives at Oak Ridge, where he created and presided over the Division of Biology for nearly two decades (1947–1966). Hollaender’s scheme, at once entrepreneurial and system-oriented, made good use of the unique resources provided by the AEC and by Oak Ridge’s national laboratory setting, while at the same time it restructured wartime research practices to better reflect biologists’ own priorities. Because Hollaender offered many academic experimental biologists a way of envisioning military-related patronage as integral – rather than antithetical – to their professional identities, his work provides an important lens through which to examine the early post-war intellectual and institutional development of radiobiology.


Alexander Hollaender H.J. Muller Liane Braunch Russell mammalian genetics Oak Ridge National Laboratory radiobiology SLT (Specific Locus Test) U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) William Russell 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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