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Dissertation: Degeneration in Miniature: History of Cell Death and Aging Research in the Twentieth Century

Once perceived as an unimportant occurrence in living organisms, cell degeneration was reconfigured as an important biological phenomenon in development, aging, health, and diseases in the twentieth century. This dissertation tells a twentieth-century history of scientific investigations on cell degeneration, including cell death and aging.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Processes, Organisms

Thesis: A History of Cellular Senescence and Its Relation to Stem Cells in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

This study aims to provide information to answer the following question: While some scientists claim they can indefinitely culture a stem cell line in vitro, what are the consequences of those culturing practices? An analysis of a cluster of articles from the Embryo Project Encyclopedia provides information to suggest possible solutions to some potential problems in cell culturing, recognition of benefits for existing or historical culturing practices, and identification of gaps in scientific knowledge that warrant further research.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Processes, Publications

John Tyler Bonner (1920- )

The establishment and growth of developmental-evolutionary biology owes a great debt to the work of John Tyler Bonner. Bonner's studies of cellular slime molds have shed light on some of the big questions of biology including the origins of multicellularity and the nature of morphogenesis. The second child of Lilly Marguerite Stehli and Paul Bonner, John Tyler was born 12 May 1920 in New York City and spent his early years in Locust Valley, Long Island (late 1920s), France (1930), and London (1932).

Format: Articles

Subject: People

Dictyostelium discoideum

Dictyostelium discoideum is a cellular slime mold that serves as an important model organism in a variety of fields. Cellular slime molds have an unusual life cycle. They exist as separate amoebae, but after consuming all the bacteria in their area they proceed to stream together to form a multicellular organism. These features make it a valuable tool for studying developmental processes and also for investigating the evolution of multicellularity. Long thought to be a type of fungus, it has recently been shown that slime molds in fact bear no relation to fungi.

Format: Articles

Subject: Organisms

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (SDZICR) in San Diego, California, is a research organization that works to generate, use, and share information for the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. In 1975, Kurt Benirschke, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) who studied human and animal reproduction, and Charles Bieler, the director of the San Diego Zoo, collaborated to form the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES).

Format: Articles

Subject: Organizations

Dizhou Tong (1902-1979)

Dizhou Tong, also called Ti Chou Tung, studied marine animals and helped introduce and organize experimental embryology in China during the twentieth century. He introduced cellular nuclear transfer technology to the Chinese biological community, developed methods to clone organisms from many marine species, and investigated the role of cytoplasm in early development. Tong's administrative and scientific leadership in the fields of marine, cellular, and developmental biology contributed to China's experimental embryology research programs.

Format: Articles

Subject: People

History of the Monash IVF Research Program from 1971 to 1989

In 1971, a group of researchers founded the Monash IVF Research Program with the mission to discover how in vitro fertilization, or IVF, techniques could become a treatment for infertility in both men and women. The program included researcher Carl Wood and colleagues John Leeton, Alex Lopata, Alan Trounson, and Ian Johnston at the Queen Victoria Medical Center and Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Since the program’s establishment in 1971, the Monash IVF Research Program has helped to develop and implement many IVF technologies still used in clinical practice as of 2020.

Format: Articles

Subject: Organizations, Reproduction

Slime Mold Video

This video is composed of a sequence of films created by John Tyler Bonner in the 1940s to show the life cycle of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. As only the second person to study slime molds, Bonner frequently encountered audiences who had never heard of, let alone seen, the unusual organism.

Format: Articles

Subject: Processes

“Causes of Death Among Stillbirths” (2011), by Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network Writing Group

In December 2011, the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network, or SCRN, published the article “Causes of Death Among Stillbirths” in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors of the article investigate the causes of stillbirth and possible reasons for the racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities in stillbirth rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, stillbirth is the death of a fetus at twenty or more weeks during pregnancy.

Format: Articles

Subject: Reproduction

“Annual Research Review: Prenatal Stress and the Origins of Psychopathology: An Evolutionary Perspective” (2011), by Vivette Glover

In 2011, fetal researcher Vivette Glover published “Annual Research Review: Prenatal Stress and the Origins of Psychopathology: An Evolutionary Perspective,” hereafter, “Prenatal Stress and the Origins of Psychopathology,” in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In that article, Glover explained how an evolutionary perspective may be useful in understanding the effects of fetal programming. Fetal programming is a hypothesis that attempts to explain how factors during pregnancy can affect fetuses after birth.

Format: Articles

Subject: Theories, Reproduction, Disorders

Thesis: A History and Analysis of Drug Labeling Policy for Pregnant and Lactating Women and Women's Involvement in Clinical Drug Research from 1970 to 2014

The problem of whether women should be involved in drug research is a question of who can assume risk and who is responsible for disseminating what specific kinds of information. The problem tends to be framed as one that juxtaposes the health of women and fetuses and sets their health as in opposition. That opposition, coupled with the inherent uncertainty in testing drugs, provides for a complex set of issues surrounding consent and access to information.

Format: Essays and Theses

Subject: Ethics

Slime mold development video by John Tyler Bonner

This video is composed of a sequence of time lapse films created by John Tyler Bonner in the 1940s to show the life cycle of the cellular slime mold, Dictyostelium discoideum. As only the second person to study slime molds, Bonner frequently encountered audiences who had never heard of, let alone seen, the unusual organism. He therefore decided to create a film to present at seminars in order to introduce his object of study. Bonner created the video for his senior thesis at Harvard University with the help of photographer Frank Smith.

Format: Video

Subject: Organisms

Telomeres and Telomerase in Cellular Aging (Senescence)

Telomeres are sequences of DNA on the ends of chromosomes that protect chromosomes from sticking to each other or tangling, which could cause irregularities in normal DNA functions. As cells replicate, telomeres shorten at the end of chromosomes, which correlates to senescence or cellular aging. Integral to this process is telomerase, which is an enzyme that repairs telomeres and is present in various cells in the human body, especially during human growth and development.

Format: Articles

Subject: Theories

"The Limited In Vitro Lifetime of Human Diploid Cell Strains" (1964), by Leonard Hayflick

Leonard Hayflick in the US during the early 1960s showed that normal populations of embryonic cells divide a finite number of times. He published his results as 'The Limited In Vitro Lifetime of Human Diploid Cell Strains' in 1964. Hayflick performed the experiment with WI-38 fetal lung cells, named after the Wistar Institute, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hayflick worked. Frank MacFarlane Burnet, later called the limit in capacity for cellular division the Hayflick Limit in 1974.

Format: Articles

Subject: Experiments

HeLa Cell Line

The HeLa cell line was the first immortal human cell line that George Otto Gey, Margaret Gey, and Mary Kucibek first isolated from Henrietta Lacks and developed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1951. An immortal human cell line is a cluster of cells that continuously multiply on their own outside of the human from which they originated. Scientists use immortal human cell lines in their research to investigate how cells function in humans.

Format: Articles

Subject: Technologies, Experiments, People, Ethics

"Cellular death in morphogenesis of the avian wing" (1962), by John W. Saunders Jr., et al.

In the early 1960s, John W. Saunders Jr., Mary T. Gasseling, and Lilyan C. Saunders in the US investigated how cells die in the developing limbs of chick embryos. They studied when and where in developing limbs many cells die, and they studied the functions of cell death in wing development. At a time when only a few developmental biologists studied cell death, or apoptosis, Saunders and his colleagues showed that researchers could use embryological experiments to uncover the causal mechanisms of apotosis.

Format: Articles

Subject: Experiments

California Proposition 71 (2004)

The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, also called Proposition 71, was a ballot
initiative proposed by California voters in 2004 to allocate three billion dollars of state
funds for stem cell research over ten years. Endorsed by California scientists and
patient-advocates, Prop 71 passed on 2 November 2004, amending the state constitution to make
stem cell research a constitutional right. In addition, Prop 71 led to the creation of the
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), in San Francisco, California to allocate

Format: Articles

Subject: Legal

John von Neumann's Cellular Automata

Cellular automata (CA) are mathematical models used to simulate complex systems or processes. In several fields, including biology, physics, and chemistry, CA are employed to analyze phenomena such as the growth of plants, DNA evolution, and embryogenesis. In the 1940s John von Neumann formalized the idea of cellular automata in order to create a theoretical model for a self-reproducing machine. Von Neumann's work was motivated by his attempt to understand biological evolution and self-reproduction.

Format: Articles

Subject: Theories

Rudolf Carl Virchow (1821-1902)

Rudolf Carl Virchow lived in nineteenth century Prussia, now Germany, and proposed that omnis cellula e cellula, which translates to each cell comes from another cell, and which became and fundamental concept for cell theory. He helped found two fields, cellular pathology and comparative pathology, and he contributed to many others. Ultimately Virchow argued that disease is caused by changes in normal cells, also known as cellular pathology.

Format: Articles

Subject: People

“HeLa Cells 50 Years On: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (2002), by John R. Masters

Published in 2002, prostate cancer researcher John R. Masters authored a review article HeLa Cells 50 Years On: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly that described the historical and contemporary context of the HeLa cell line in research in Nature Reviews Cancer. The HeLa cell line was one of the first documented immortal cell lines, isolated from cervical cancer patient Henrietta Lacks in 1951 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. An immortal cell line is a cluster of cells that continuously multiply on their own outside of the original host.

Format: Articles

Subject: Publications

The First Successful Cloning of a Gaur (2000), by Advanced Cell Technology

The first successful cloning of a gaur in 2000 by Advanced Cell Technology involved the cells of two animals: an egg cell from a domestic cow and a skin cell from a gaur. The researchers extracted the egg cell from the ovary of the domestic cow and the skin cell from the skin of the gaur. First, the researchers performed nuclear transplantation on the egg cell of the cow, during which they removed the nucleus of the egg cell. The mitochondria of the egg cell remained intact inside the cell.

Format: Graphics

Subject: Experiments, Organisms, Reproduction

Ernest John Christopher Polge (1926-2006)

Twentieth-century researcher Ernest John Christopher Polge studied the reproductive processes of livestock and determined a method to successfully freeze, thaw, and utilize viable sperm cells to produce offspring in animals. In 1949, Polge identified glycerol as a cryoprotectant, or a medium that enables cells to freeze without damaging their cellular components or functions. Several years later, Polge used glycerol in a freezing process called vitrification, which enabled him to freeze poultry sperm, thaw that sperm, and use it to fertilize vertebrate embryos.

Format: Articles

Subject: People

Gail Roberta Martin (1944– )

In the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Gail Roberta Martin specialized in biochemistry and embryology, more specifically cellular communication and the development of organs. In 1981, she named any cell taken from inside a human embryo at the blastocyst stage an “embryonic stem cell”. During development, an embryo goes through the blastocyst stage just before it implants in the uterus. Embryonic stem cells are useful for experiments because they are self-renewing and able to develop into almost any cell type in the body.

Format: Articles

Subject: People

The US President's Council on Bioethics (2001-2009)

The US President's Council on Bioethics was an organization headquartered in Washington D.C. that was chartered to advise then US President George W. Bush on ethical issues related to biomedical science and technology. In November 2001, US President George W. Bush created the President's Council on Bioethics (PCB). Convened during a nationwide cloning and embryonic stem cell research debate, the Council stated that it worked to address arguments about ethics from many different perspectives.

Format: Articles

Subject: Organizations, Legal, Ethics

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