Jon Cohen AIDS research collection, 1941-2007 (majority within 1985-2004)
Using These Materials
- Items which are in the public domain or have had non-exclusive rights transfered to Michigan are open for use. Where applicable all other items, subject to copyright. Other restrictions on...
- Cohen, Jon, 1958-
- Jon Cohen is a science reporter for Science magazine, 1990-present. Materials in the collection were collected by Cohen during his research on AIDS and the writing of his 2001 book, Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine. Includes correspondence, reports, journals articles, newsletters, activist materials, corporate promotional materials and conference materials relating to AIDS.
- 13,405 items
- Finding aid prepared by Cohen Project staff
- Scope and Content:
The Jon Cohen collection consists of approximately 10,000 documents or 32 linear feet of materials, including correspondence, conference abstracts, meeting minutes, reports, promotional materials, presentations, and newspaper and journal articles related to the AIDS public health crisis and the response from governments, scientists, activist organizations, and pharmaceutical companies. A large portion of the collection is made up of U.S. Federal documents; of note are documents that Jon Cohen obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documenting Jonas Salk's development of a Polio vaccine as well as the Reagan administration's response to AIDS. Additionally, the collection contains company stock reports, correspondences between scientists, pamphlets on AIDS awareness and prevention from countries across the globe, and newsletters from AIDS activist groups such as AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and Treatment Action Group (TAG).
The largest series in the collection is the Chronological Files, which is divided by year. Early years in the AIDS movement (1980s) have been combined into a single more expansive series. Each year section is subdivided into Events and Reports. The Events sections correlate with international conferences (International Conference on AIDS and Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections being the most prevalent in the collection) while Reports correlate with annual reports by a range of organizations (e.g. United Nations).
Scientific Research is a fairly extensive section of the collection, consisting of materials on the scientific nature of HIV/AIDS and this series has been divided into six sub-series. These sub-series are Immunology, Virology, the Duesberg AIDS hypothesis controversy, Animal Research, Pediatrics and Epidemiology. Materials are alphabetically arranged into subject files on various scientific AIDS related content and include: newspaper clippings, journal article duplicates, other published materials, in addition to some correspondence and notes written by Jon Cohen.
Disease Management is separated into two sections; AIDS Treatment and AIDS Vaccines. The AIDS Treatment sub-series includes subject files on drug treatment, specific drugs, and immune therapy. The AIDS Vaccines sub-series is made up of subject files on clinical trials, general information of AIDS vaccines and overviews of vaccine development arranged chronologically. This series includes newspaper clippings, journal articles, press releases, pamphlets and other related items.
AIDS Internationally is an extensive collection of materials, divided first by continent and then sub-divided by country. The materials covered in this section range from AIDS prevention programs to AIDS awareness programs.
The AIDS Activism series is separated under three main headings: Movements, Organizations and Prevention. Types of materials within this section include newspaper articles, brochures, press releases, flyers, organization publications and newsletters.
The Government Response and Policy series contains both legal and policy aspects. Some of the major areas covered by the Legal section include: the gp160 trials controversy, which contains federal documents, court documents, lobbyist documents, correspondences; documents created by and related to Microgenesys, the company that created gp160; also included are documents related to NIH, such as the Office of AIDS Research and the NIH Revitalization Act (the report itself and press surrounding it). The Policy section includes many small folders of individual policies but mostly consists of two large sections: Immunization Policy and Presidential Policy. Immunization Policy contains hearing notes, press on various policies, and various documents connected with vaccine funding, such as news and correspondences and official documents around the accelerated drug approval reform. The Presidential Policy section handles the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Clinton has the largest portion as it was during his administration that PACHA was created as a federal body to try an approach that worked toward ending AIDS.
The Marketplace series contains separate subject files on corporations that were involved in creating AIDS treatment drugs and researching vaccines between 1988 and 2005. In addition to these subject files, the series also contains documentation on the patents of these AIDS treatments. Material formats include press releases, newspaper clippings, corporate information packets and stock reports.
The Jonas Salk series consists of materials concerning the scientist Jonas Salk, one of the discoverers of the first polio vaccine. This series holds of documents and articles related to that work, as well as the role Salk took in researching a vaccine for HIV/AIDS.
The Robert Gallo series is a large collection of documents connecting to the scientists Robert Gallo, one of the original AIDS researchers whose research into HIV and the AIDS virus was surrounded by controversy.
The AIDS in the Media series contains a collection of materials gathered by Cohen to track various media trends and responses to AIDS. Included in this collection are: activism, AIDS discrimination, vaccine news, predictions, and various other topics that were important in the fight against AIDS. The materials include news clippings, abstract, computer print-offs and photocopies of articles.
Correspondence is separated into three sub-series: Incoming, Outgoing and Response to Cohen Articles. The Correspondence series includes letters, faxes and emails sent to and by Jon Cohen. Many letters concern Cohen’s writings on AIDS at Science magazine.
- Biographical / Historical:
Jon Cohen received a Bachelor of Arts in 1981 from the University of California, San Diego, where he majored in science writing. In 1990 he started reporting and writing for Science magazine, where he primarily reported on HIV/AIDS developments including the response from the National Institute for Health and other governmental organizations, AIDS scientists, and vaccine research. He regularly attended conferences that addressed AIDS and corresponded with various scientists who were pioneers in the early research of the disease. In 2001, Cohen published a book about the history of the quest for an AIDS vaccine, titled Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine, and the materials in this collection reflect his decade-long accumulation of documents relevant to research for the book.History
The history of AIDS vaccine research is a complex topic and fraught with controversy. Before the AIDS infection in the United States was recognized in 1980, numerous incidences of an unknown wasting disease were reported in the United States, Europe and Africa. In 1983, scientists at the Pasteur Institute published their findings on HIV and a year later Robert Gallo and other researchers working in the United States published findings in Science stating that HIV causes AIDS. The similarity between the virus types reported by both groups created a controversy within the scientific community, because some scientists believed that Gallo’s samples were contaminated by the Pasteur Institute samples. This started a nearly decade-long investigation into the original HIV research by several scientific and governmental review boards. This also led to the creation of the Office of Scientific Integrity—one of many governmental responses to the quest to fight AIDS.
In 1984, Margaret Heckler of the Reagan Administration announced that an AIDS vaccine would be available within two years. Although a working vaccine was not created in that time span, the importance of an AIDS vaccine spurred on numerous biomedical companies to begin researching, developing and test HIV vaccines. The quest for an HIV vaccine brought individuals such as Jonas Salk, creator of the first polio vaccine, back into the forefront and pushed scientists to start their own biomedical companies. In addition to private corporations, government-sponsored bodies including the United States military joined the race.
The struggle against HIV/AIDS and the search for a vaccine led to a global effort to curb the rapid spread of the disease. This effort included the governments of countries across the world that developed AIDS awareness and prevention programs, in addition to grassroots activist groups. Many of these programs were in alliance with NGOs such as the United Nations or government-sponsored organizations such as the Department of Health and Human Services. International AIDS conferences were also sponsored to bring together the world communities to help fight the spread of AIDS.
- Acquisition Information:
- Direct transfer by Jon Cohen in 2007.
Using These Materials
Items which are in the public domain or have had non-exclusive rights transfered to Michigan are open for use. Where applicable all other items, subject to copyright. Other restrictions on distribution may apply. Please go to http://www.umdl.umich.edu/ for more information.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright for materials created by Jon Cohen has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Where applicable all other items, subject to copyright. Other restrictions on distribution may apply.