Scientific Discovery and Scientific Reputation: The Reception of Peyton Rous’ Discovery of the Chicken Sarcoma Virus

  title={Scientific Discovery and Scientific Reputation: The Reception 
of Peyton Rous’ Discovery of the Chicken Sarcoma Virus},
  author={Eva Becsei-Kilborn},
  journal={Journal of the History of Biology},
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… 

Peyton Rous: A Centennial Tribute to the Founding Father of Cancer Virology

New studies are reported on showing how Warthin and Schmorl strengthened the advancement of Rous by ensuring his sound grounding in pathology, particularly in the fields of viral oncology and blood preservation.

When viruses were not in style: parallels in the histories of chicken sarcoma viruses and bacteriophages.

  • N. Sankaran
  • Medicine
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2014

Not Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Howard Temin’s Provirus Hypothesis Revisited

During the 1960s, Howard M. Temin (1934–1994), dared to advocate a “heretical” hypothesis that appeared to be at variance with the central dogma of molecular biology, understood by many to imply that

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  • Robin W Scheffler
  • Biology
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2014

Ludwik Gross, Sarah Stewart, and the 1950s discoveries of Gross murine leukemia virus and polyoma virus.

  • Gregory J. Morgan
  • Medicine
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2014

Making a Virus Visible: Francis O. Holmes and a Biological Assay for Tobacco mosaic virus

In the early twentieth century, viruses had yet to be defined in a material way and Holmes’ method provided the first evidence that viruses were discrete infectious particles, thus setting the stage for physicochemical studies of plant viruses.

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A diverse group of viruses reveals unexpected connections between innate immunity, immune sensors and tumour suppressor signalling that control both viral infection and cancer.

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Following cancer viruses through the laboratory, clinic, and society.

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  • P. Vogt
  • Medicine
    FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
  • 1996
The unusually long delay in the recognition of Rous’s discovery and the puzzling and adamant opposition he repeatedly expressed to the role of somatic mutations in the causation of cancer are reviewed.

A century of research into the cause of cancer: is the new oncogene paradigm revolutionary?

This essay mainly focuses on the role of the exogenous/endogenous dichotomy in the reception of research on oncogenic viruses, especially discussing the work of Nobel laureate Peyton Rous on cancer viruses at the Rockefeller Institute.


  • P. Rous
  • Medicine
    The Journal of experimental medicine
  • 1910
Intensive study of this tumor by Rous and by other investigators led to a greater understanding of the nature of the many factors that influence tumor growth, and find important applications today when clinicians are vitally interested in the relationship between the Kaposi sarcoma and the AIDS virus.

Francis Peyton Rous, 1879-1970

  • C. Andrewes
  • History
    Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society
  • 1971
Peyton Rous, who died at the age of ninety, was throughout his working life constantly excited by every new fact he brought to light and this made his life a truly satisfying one.

Pathological Aspects of Some Problems of Experimental Cancer Research

It is the purpose to select for discussion certain problems which are of special interest to the general pathologist and to attempt to evaluate the new contributions by the old and established pathological criteria.

Landmark article (JAMA 1911;56:198). Transmission of a malignant new growth by means of a cell-free filtrate. By Peyton Rous.

A tumor of the chicken, histologically a spindle-celled sarcoma, has been propagated in this laboratory since October, 1909, 1 and in the past few months has developed extreme malignancy. 2 From a

Beijerinck's work on tobacco mosaic virus: historical context and legacy.

  • L. Bos
  • Biology, Medicine
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 1999
The history of research on tobacco mosaic and the commitments of Mayer, Beijerinck and others demonstrate that progress in science is not only a matter of mere technology but of philosophy as well.

The Life of a Virus: Tobacco Mosaic Virus as an Experimental Model, 1930-1965

Focusing on the tobacco mosaic virus research conducted in Nobel laureate Wendell Stanley's lab, Angela N. H. Creager argues that TMV served as a model system for virology and molecular biology, much as the fruit fly and laboratory mouse have for genetics and cancer research.


The general findings strongly suggest that the agents are of about the same size, and of the same natural class, and that their recognition points to the existence of a new group of entities which cause in chickens neoplasms of diverse character.


The phenomena of natural and acquired resistance to transplanted chicken tumors strikingly resemble those observed in the case of transplanted mammalian growths; and no more than those do they