Roderick Murray, M.D. (1910-1980)

Roderick Murray was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and reared in Scotland and South Africa. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He earned a master's degree in organic chemistry from the University of South Africa and then a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1941. During World War II, he served for five years in the South Pacific as an infectious disease control specialist in an Army medical laboratory. 

Dr Murray sitting at his desk wearing a suit, writing with a pen

Dr. Roderick Murray Portrait in Building 29. National Library of Medicine
Murray came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1947 as a commissioned Public Health Services (PHS) officer in the Laboratory of Biologics Controls, which later became the Division of Biological Standards (DBS). He was director of DBS from 1955 to 1972. According to Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, this was not a position he wanted or for which he was particularly well-suited. He had been in the Army during World War II and had built a reputable career studying hepatitis, but as a PHS Commissioned Corps officer, he did not have much choice in whether or not to take the position.

He recruited Dr. Samuel Baron, one of the leading virologists of that era and a polio expert, to DBS to help sort out the aftermath of the Cutter polio incident. He worked with Drs. Kirschstein, Baron, and Van Hoosier on the live attenuated poliovirus vaccine. He also did studies with Rhesus monkeys (from The Record article February 1960).

In February 1961, Murray informed Dr. Bernice Eddy that her research interests conflicted with her control work on respiratory viruses, and that going forward she would be asked to spend time solely on research, and that her staff would be reduced. In July 1961, Eddy began her new role in research only. Murray's treatment of Eddy was revealed in the Congressional hearings as part of the Consumer Safety Act of 1972. Although there wasn’t immediate fallout for Murray, he was likely keenly aware of the scrutiny his role would continue to have.

two older men in suits, stand for their photo to be taken.

Dr. Roderick Murray at left, with Dr. Joseph Smadel, at right, the 1962 Lasker Award winner. National Library of Medicine
When DBS became administratively part of the FDA in 1972, Murray was appointed special assistant to the director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He requested this transfer himself, wanting to stay within NIH. He was also in poor health and had been relying on Dr. Ruth Kirschstein to make decisions for many products under review by DBS and help him with his administrative duties. 

Murray was the author or coauthor of more than 50 scientific papers, and he received the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal in 1965. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Public Health Association and a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the American Medical Association. Murray retired in 1973 as an Assistant Surgeon General. He died in 1980.

Dr. Murray worked in Building 8, Room 224 prior to construction of Building 29. He then worked on the first floor of Building 29, Room 129.