Rutter, William J.
UCSF Library & CKM
Archives and Special Collections
530 Parnassus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94143-0840
Born on August 28, 1928, William J. Rutter received a B.A. in Biochemistry from Harvard University in 1949, after a year at Brigham Young University and a stint in the Navy. He went on to get an M.S. in (?) from the University of Utah (1950) and a Ph.D. in (?) from the University of Illinois (1952). After post-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin (1952-1954) and the Nobel Institute in Sweden (1954-1955), Rutter joined the faculty at the University of Illinois (1955-1963). In 1962-1963, he went to Stanford on a Guggenheim Fellowship, and then returned to Illinois as a full professor for two years (1963-1965). He held a joint professorship in genetics and biochemistry at the University of Washington from 1965-1968, before becoming Hertzstein Professor of Biochemistry and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF in 1969. Chairman of the department until 1982, Rutter became the Director of the Hormone Research Institute at UCSF in 1983. In addition he held numerous extramural appointments, including serving on advisory committees for various national and international laboratories and scientific organizations. He also held offices in various professional societies and served on a number of journal editorial boards. Rutter became an emeritus professor in 1991. Among Rutter's diverse research contributions are, discovery and characterization of the three RNA polymerase transcription systems operating in eucaryotic gene expression, cloning and structural and functional analysis of the insulin gene, nucleotide sequencing of hepatitis B virus, and development (with Chiron corporation and Merck) of the first commercial genetically engineered human vaccine, for hepatitis B. Though an innovative researcher, Rutter is best known at UCSF for his leadership as chairman and his encouragement of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to research. He transformed a mediocre department into a vital and groundbreaking research facility that has become a foundation for the biotech industry centered in the San Francisco Bay Area. Another of his contributions is the promotion of biotechnology and the fostering of cooperative research efforts between industry and academia. In 1981, he and two colleagues formed Chiron Corporation, where he remains as chairman of the board of directors. The Rutter Collection consists of 12 cartons and 1 manuscript box containing files primarily documenting his association with the University of California at San Francisco (1969-1994) as professor of biochemistry, department chair and lab director including associated professional commitments: membership in professional organizations, work on advisory boards, and consulting. Some material on his involvement in the Biotech industry is included, although there is little or no evidence of Chiron activities. Chiron was co-founded by Rutter and Edward Penhoet in 1981. The papers include administrative and professional correspondence, subject files, some financial and personnel documents, minutes and agendas, conference materials and other materials that he produced during his career at UCSF. The collection does not include any documentation of actual research, i.e., lab notebooks or experimental data, though administrative files on MUAs, grants, and patents are a part of the collection. Photocopies of some experimental data are included in the Patent files, but the actual lab notebooks apparently no longer exist. There are also extensive correspondence files covering the exchange of scientific information and materials. The papers in this collection were all created or collected by Rutter in the course of his career, but they come from various offices; having moved with him from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics to the Hormone Research Institute. Sally Hughes, a historian with the History of Health Sciences Department at UCSF arranged for the donation of the material as a part of her oral history research project with Rutter. The majority of the records came to Special Collections from the Hormone Research Institute office by way of Dr. Hughes. Additional records were transferred directly from the Hormone Research Lab. The collection is organized into five subgroups. Each subgroup is arranged by series as necessary. The first covers Rutter's activities as Hertzstein Professor of Biochemistry (1969-1991), including his administrative duties as head of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (1969-1981) and as director of the Hormone Research Institute (1982-1989). Rutter's filling system maintained no distinction between his activities. The second subgroup documents Rutter's wider involvement with the UC system and UCSF (particularly membership on the School of Medicine Executive Committee and other committee work). The third includes materials on his various Professional Commitments: membership in professional organizations, service on editorial boards and as a manuscript and grant reviewer, consultant work and service on a variety of advisory boards. The fourth subgroup documents his Business Commitments. Patent materials form the fifth subgroup. These materials are preserved for their historic value, but are temporarily restricted for sensitive legal reasons. Folders are usually arranged alphabetically within their series or subseries, exceptions include Travel which is arranged chronologically, and a part of Correspondence which is arranged hierarchically.