James A. Shannon buildingOFFICE OF NIH HISTORY and museum

The Office of NIH History and Museum at the National Institutes of Health advances the historical understanding of the biomedical research conducted at the National Institutes of Health by documenting, preserving, and interpreting records and artifacts. The office creates exhibits and other products, and helps scholars and researchers to navigate the rich history of the National Institutes of Health.



We are happy to have received the collection of Dr. William Banfield.  Banfield was the first electron microscopist at the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Pathology, which provided services to the NIH Clinical Center.  Banfield furthered electron microscope technology by developing instruments such as the electron probe X-ray microanalyzer, an automatic tissue sample processor, and a thin section knife.  As a staff pathologist, Banfield worked with scientists from his own institute, such as Lasker Award Winner Michael Potter, and from other NIH institutes, such as Dr. Wallace Rowe at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Banfield also conducted his own research on collagen and how it changes with age; viruses as a cause of cancer, particularly contagious tumors; cow milker's nodule virus; the transmission of cancer through mosquito bites; and pike fish malignant lymphoma tumors.  The collection includes his 1965-1969 journal (above) detailing the development of scanning electron microscopy in laboratories and manufacturers all over the world, some instruments, and a very small selection of his slides.  Born in Connecticut, Banfield earned his BS at Rhode Island State College in 1943, and his MD at Yale University School of Medicine in 1946. After his internship, he served as a Captain at the Army Chemical Center until 1949. He returned to Yale as an American Cancer Society Fellow and became a professor.  He came to NIH in 1954 and stayed until his retirement in 1980.  For more about his life see https://nihrecord.nih.gov/PDF_Archive/1980%20pdfs/19800304.pdf


Oral histories are added on a regular basis.

Seymour Kety
Interview date: December 12, 1995

Judith Rapoport
Interview date: August 28, 2017

The Office of NIH History holds photograph collections cataloged and uncataloged. Many can be found in on our Flickr site and in Search Our Collections. To request images for use in publications or presentations contact the Office of NIH History. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.


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Office of History and Stetten Museum | Bldg 60 | Suite 230 | National Institutes of Health | Bethesda, MD 20814-1460
Phone: 301.496.6610 | Email: history@nih.gov

Last updated: 01 January 2018
First published: 2 February 2005
Permanence level:
Permanent: Dynamic Content