Path A: UC/Berkeley Isotope Research Programs

Glenn Theodore Seaborg
Glenn Theodore Seaborg (April 19, 1912 – February 25, 1999) was an American scientist whose involvement in the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements earned him a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His work in this area also led to his development of the actinide concept and the arrangement of the actinide series in the periodic table of the elements.
Martin Kamen
Martin David Kamen (August 27, 1913, Toronto – August 31, 2002) was a physicist inside the Manhattan project. Together with Sam Ruben, he co-discovered the isotope carbon-14 on February 27, 1940, at the University of California Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley.

Initial investigations with radioactive isotopes began using products from the 37” cyclotron before the 60”cyclotron became fully operational in 1939. Chemists, physicists, biologists and physicians on the UCB, and UCSF faculty having been recruited to Lawrence’s team.

Glenn Seaborg was initially part of the accelerator group and later the leader of the isotope development team.  His major efforts were on the development of radiochemistry methods of producing tracers for others to test. John Lawrence led the Medical efforts and Joseph Hamilton led the biological applications team with most studies done in rodents. Early research including therapy tests are described (oral history) by John Lawrence in 1936 using neutrons from the 37” cyclotron. In addition, 32P was used in early radioisotope therapy of patients with leukemia and Polycythemia Vera, a malignant disease of the red blood cells.

Martin Kamen joined the Rad Lab team in 1937 as the chemist who developed many of the synthetic methods that are used in  modern radiochemistry laboratories. He used 11C that was initially available, but the tracer’s short half-life (21 minutes) posed difficulties and he searched for a longer-lived radioisotope of carbon that would be more useful in biochemical research. His discovery of 14C in 1940 opened the way for the many of the basic discoveries that were to follow (for more details, see From Nuclear Science to Bacterial Cytochromes: the Work of Martin D. Kamen ). The studies of the metabolism of glucose,  carbohydrates,  proteins, and fats were begun at Berkeley (see Discovery and characterization of electron transfer proteins in the photosynthetic bacteria) along with the study of photosynthetic processes in plants. Kamen’s work provided the tools Mel Calvin  needed for his work on photosynthesis,  for which in 1961 he received the Nobel prize in Chemistry. Work in the Corey labs in Washington University  added new  knowledge of the different steps involved in carbohydrate metabolism.

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