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Norman G. Anderson Papers

Identifier: 2018-022

Scope and Content

The Norman G. Anderson Papers contain the professional and personal papers of American clinical chemist, inventor, and corporate executive Norman G. Anderson. The collection is arranged into the following fifteen series:

  1. Chronological Files
  2. United States Navy Files
  3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Files
  4. Argonne National Laboratory Files
  5. Large Scale Biology Corporation Files
  6. Viral Defense Foundation Files
  7. Notebooks
  8. Patent Files
  9. Paper, Article, and Speech Files
  10. Research Files
  11. Personal Files
  12. Printed Materials
  13. Oversized
  14. Electronic Storage Materials
  15. Images


  • Creation: 1904-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1943-2010


Language of Materials

A majority of the materials in this collection are in English. Also includes small amounts of materials in German, French, and Portuguese.

Access Restrictions

The Norman G. Anderson Papers are open to researchers with the exception of the following files:

Box 10 Folder 13 is closed to researchers until January 1, 2028.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Norman G. Anderson Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Norman G. Anderson (1919-2018) was an American clinical chemist, inventor, and corporate executive. He was noted for his research on cell fractionation, centrifugation, and 2-D electrophoresis. He was also the inventor of several widely used bioanalytical instruments, including the zonal centrifuge and the centrifugal fast analyzer. He was also a co-founder of Large Scale Biology Corporation and the founder of the Viral Defense Foundation.

Norman G. Anderson was born in Davenport, Washington on April 21, 1919 and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Augsburg College (1937-1938) and the University of Minnesota (1938-1941). Anderson’s education was interrupted by military service in the United States Navy during World War II (1941-1945). Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he worked on several projects in the Navy. This included conducting research on eye movements during instrument flight, which assisted in the design of instrument panels in aircraft. He was also involved in shooting motion picture footage of submarines in the Pacific Theater, which included underwater photography.

After his discharge from the Navy, Anderson resumed his education at Duke University, where he earned his B.A. in Zoology (1947), M.A. in Physiology (1948), and Ph.D. in Cell Physiology (1951) respectively. As a graduate student at Duke, he became interested in the concept of isolating cellular components using centrifuges, which he believed could help scientists better study and understand diseases.

After earning his doctorate, Anderson obtained a post-doctoral fellowship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (1951-1952). After serving his fellowship, he was appointed to Oak Ridge’s research staff and went on to enjoy a distinguished career at this federal laboratory. Anderson initially worked at Oak Ridge’s Biology Division, where he served as Investigator of Cell Physiology (1952-1956) and Group Leader of Cell Physiology (1956-1962). From 1962 to 1974, he served as Director of the Molecular Anatomy Program (MAN Program), a joint National Institutes of Health-Atomic Energy Commission research program that sought to identify the metabolic profiles and chemical characteristics of all cell components.

At Oak Ridge, Anderson studied the problem of separating cell components. He recognized the need for new instruments to perform this kind of work. In response to this need, Anderson invented and developed the zonal centrifuge (1955-1968). As Director of the MAN Program, Anderson was charged with developing new methods and instruments for isolating cancer-causing viruses and purifying vaccines. In response to these needs, he invented the K-II zonal centrifuge (1969) and the centrifugal fast analyzer (also known as the GeMSAEC Fast Analyzer) (1969). Several of the instruments invented and developed by Anderson at Oak Ridge were widely adopted by science and medical facilities in the United States.

In 1974, Anderson was appointed Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Surgery. Here, he was joined by his son N. Leigh Anderson, who become a prominent scientist in his own right and a longtime collaborator with his father. At the Medical University of South Carolina, the Andersons successfully developed a method of using 2-D electrophoresis to separate and analyze proteins in blood plasma.

In 1975, Norman G. Anderson moved to Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, where he served as Senior Physiologist of the Molecular Anatomy Program (MAN Program) (1975-1984). Once again, he was joined by his son N. Leigh Anderson. At Argonne, the Andersons continued to work on 2-D electrophoresis technology, which led to their development of the ISO-DALT 2-D gel electrophoresis system, which they applied to clinical chemistry.

While working at Argonne, seeing 2-D electrophoresis as a tool that could be used to map human proteins for the purpose of treating and preventing diseases, the Andersons conceived the concept of the Human Protein Index. First proposed by the Andersons in 1980, the Human Protein Index concept attracted the attention of United States Senator Alan Cranston, who had an interest in biomedical research. At Cranston’s instigation, the Human Protein Index Task Force was formed, with Norman G. Anderson serving as Chairman and N. Leigh Anderson serving as a representative of Argonne National Laboratory. In 1983, the Andersons wrote the first proposal for the Human Genome Project. Citing the Reagan Administration’s lack of interest in the Human Protein Index, the Andersons left Argonne National Laboratory in 1984.

In 1985, Norman G. Anderson, N. Leigh Anderson, and several of their colleagues from Argonne National Laboratory founded Large Scale Biology Corporation, a biotechnology firm based in Rockville, Maryland. At Large Scale Biology, the Andersons developed and marketed instruments using 2-D electrophoresis technology, including the ISO-DALT 2-D gel electrophoresis system and Kepler 2-D gel analysis system. The firm also conducted 2-D gel studies for selected clients. Large Scale Biology Corporation merged with Biosource Technologies in 1999 and issued a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2000. The firm later experienced financial difficulties and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2006.

In the latter stages of his career, Norman G. Anderson became concerned with the threat of bioterrorism. In 2002, he established the Viral Defense Foundation, whose stated mission was “To foster the development and integration of rapid detection of viral attacks and rapid and effective responses (RD/RR) to them.” As president of the foundation, Anderson envisioned a “Manhattan Project” style approach to the threat of bioterrorism. Over the course of its existence, the Viral Defense Foundation worked on several projects concerning various aspects of combating bioterrorism, including global screening for human viruses, detection of and rapid response to viruses used as biological weapons, and the development of vaccines. The foundation also submitted several grant proposals to United States government agencies to secure funding for its various projects.

Over the course of his career, Norman G. Anderson was awarded 31 patents and authored and co-authored more 300 scientific publications. He was also an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Anderson also served as Senior Scientific Advisor to the Plasma Proteome Institute. He was the recipient of several awards, including the American Association of Clinical Chemists’ Ames Award (1976) and the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award (1983).

Norman G. Anderson passed away on November 22, 2018.


Anderson, Norman G. “Adventures in Clinical Chemistry and Proteomics: A Personal Account.” Clinical Chemistry, Volume 56, Issue 2 (February 2010): 154-160.

Human Proteome Organization. “Norman G. Anderson (1919-2018).” December 11, 2018.

Norman G. Anderson Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


26.6 Linear Feet (13 Record Boxes, 1 Hollinger Box, 1 Half Hollinger Box, 4 Photo Negative Boxes, and 5 Oversized Boxes )


Correspondence, research files, business records, notebooks, printed materials, and photographic materials of American clinical chemist, inventor, and corporate executive Norman G. Anderson.

Acquisition Information

The Norman G. Anderson Papers were donated to the Science History Institute by Norman G. Anderson in July 2018.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by Norman G. Anderson preserved at the date of processing.

Processing Information

The Norman G. Anderson Papers were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in April 2023.

Norman G. Anderson Papers
Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • May 2023: Revised by Kenton G. Jaehnig

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
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