Gas pressure apparatus

Description (Brief)
From the 1920s through the 1950s biologists and medical researchers made a concerted effort to solve the problem of tissue culture—how to raise and maintain cells for scientific research. Part of the challenge was to create a home outside the body in which cells could survive. At the National Cancer Institute, a team led by Wilton Earle (1902–1964) used tissue culture to study the process by which normal cells become cancerous. Earle, along with researchers Katherine Sanford, Virginia Evans, and Gwendolyn Likely, worked to develop proper nutrition—through a specially formulated broth—for cells grown in culture.
Early cells needed a support to cling to in order to grow properly. The NCI team utilized both sheets of cellophane seen in this flask and small Pyrex glass helicies before improved broths eliminated the need for them.
This object was used in Dr. Wilton Earle’s laboratory at the National Cancer Institute. Earle joined NCI in 1937 and served as head of its Tissue Culture Section from 1946 to 1964. He and his researchers were pioneers in the use of tissue culture for cancer research.
National Museum of American History Accession Files 1991.0071 & 1997.0139
Currently not on view
Object Name
gas pressure apparatus
date made
Physical Description
cellophane (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 15.2 cm x 33.9 cm x 8.3 cm; 6 in x 13 3/8 in x 3 1/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Health & Medicine
Science Under Glass
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Add a comment about this object