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Waring Library completes film preservation grant


Brooke Fox 792-6477

The Waring Historical Library Announces the Completion of its National Film Preservation Foundation Preservation Grant

Robert P. Walton, MD, PhD's early heart research film now available for viewing at the Waring Historical Library and the MUSC University Archives

The Waring Historical Library is pleased to announce the completion of a National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) basic preservation grant that preserved a film of early heart research experiments. Filmed in 1948 by Dr. Robert P. Walton, professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology from 1942 to 1971, it depicts an "open chest preparation" conducted using a dog. Two metal rods are shown placed in the heart muscle and measuring both the force of contraction and the heart rate. Three drugs were tested; epinephrine, digitalis and EA-83. All three drugs increased the force of contraction of the heart while epinephrine and EA-83 also increased the heart rate.

During his 29-year career at the Medical College of the State of South Carolina (as it was then known), Dr. Walton coordinated research programs and was among the first faculty to receive federal funding for research. At the time of his death in 1971, Dr. Walton was the principal investigator of one of the oldest continuous research grants of the then National Heart and Lung Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Under the 24-year-old grant, Dr.Walton and his colleagues in the Department of Pharmacology conducted extensive cardiovascular research and developed methods for quantitatively measuring the contractile force of the heart as well as testing the effects of various drugs on the heart. This research and work lead to improvements in the use of drugs during open-heart surgery.

The NFPF basic preservation grant supported the creation of a film preservation master and two access copies of Contractile Force. The film is now available to the public for on-site research and will be accessible online in early 2013.

For more information about this announcement, please contact Ms. Brooke Fox, MUSC University Archivist at 843-792-6477 or

171 Ashley Avenue · Charleston SC 29425 · (843) 792-2300