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The Debate over DNA Replication Before the Meselson-Stahl Experiment (1953–1957)
Between 1953 and 1957, before the Meselson-Stahl experiment verified semi-conservative replication of DNA, scientists debated how DNA replicated. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick proposed that DNA was composed of two helical strands that wound together in a coil. Their model suggested a replication mechanism, later termed semi-conservative replication, in which parental DNA strands separated and served as templates for the replication of new daughter strands.
Birth Control or the Limitation of Offspring (1936), by William J. Robinson
Birth Control or the Limitation of Offspring was written by American eugenics and birth control advocate William J. Robinson. First published in 1916, the final edition (forty-eighth) was published in 1936, the same year that Robinson died. As a medical doctor and author, Robinson used his influence to promote propaganda for "fewer and better babies," by focusing on contraception. Even Margaret Sanger, another prominent eugenics and birth control advocate, took great interest in this book. Robinson had three goals in mind when writing Birth Control.
Subject: Publications, Reproduction
Charles Benedict Davenport (1866-1944)
Charles Benedict Davenport was an early twentieth-century experimental zoologist. Davenport founded both the Station for Experimental Evolution and the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor in New York. Though he was a talented statistician and skilled scientist, Davenport's scientific achievements are eclipsed by his lasting legacy as the scientific leader of the eugenics movement in the US.
Subject: People, Reproduction
Alexis Carrel's Immortal Chick Heart Tissue Cultures (1912-1946)
In an effort to develop tissue culture techniques for long-term tissue cultivation, French surgeon and biologist Alexis Carrel, and his associates, produced and maintained a series of chick heart tissue cultures at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City. From 1912 to 1946, this series of chick heart tissue cultures remained alive and dividing. Since the duration of this culture greatly exceeded the normal chick life span, the cells were deemed immortal.
Dissertation: A Quadruple-Based Text Analysis System for History and Philosophy of Science
Computational tools in the digital humanities often either work on the macro-scale, enabling researchers to analyze huge amounts of data, or on the micro-scale, supporting scholars in the interpretation and analysis of individual documents. The proposed research system that was developed in the context of this dissertation, known as the Quadriga System, works to bridge these two extremes by offering tools to support close reading and interpretation of texts, while at the same time providing a means for collaboration and data collection that could lead to analyses based on big datasets.
Format: Essays and Theses
Thesis: The Hwang Woo-Suk Scandal and the Development of Bioethics in South Korea
In 2004, the South Korean geneticist Woo-Suk Hwang published what was widely regarded as the most important research finding in biotechnology that year. In the prestigious American journal Science, he claimed that he had succeeded in cloning a human blastocyst, which is an embryo in its early developmental stages (Hwang et al. 2004). A year later, in a second Science article, he made the earth-shattering announcement that he had derived eleven embryonic stem cell lines using his cloning technique (Hwang et al. 2005). The international scientific community was stunned.
Format: Essays and Theses
Thesis: From Monsters to Medicine: A Historical Analysis of Changes in the Field of Teratology Over the Twentieth Century
This project focuses on the history of how teratogens, or agents which have the potential to cause birth defects, have been understood and tested for teratogenic potential in the US over the twentieth century. Prior to this time, teratogen studies were primarily concerned with cataloguing defects rather than exploring possible causes. At the turn of the twentieth century, experimental teratogen studies with the aim of elucidating mechanisms commenced.
Format: Essays and Theses
Thesis: From Fertilization to Birth: Representing Development in High School Biology Textbooks
Biology textbooks are everybody's business. In accepting the view that texts are created with specific social goals in mind, I examined 127 twentieth-century high school biology textbooks for representations of animal development. Paragraphs and visual representations were coded and placed in one of four scientific literacy categories, including descriptive, investigative, nature of science, and HETS, or human embryos, technology, and society. I then interpreted how embryos and fetuses have been socially constructed for students.
Format: Essays and Theses
Transvaginal Ultrasound-Guided Oocyte Retrieval
Transvaginal ultrasound-guided oocyte retrieval, also known as egg retrieval, is a surgical technique used by medical professionals to extract mature eggs directly from the women’s ovaries under the guidance of ultrasound imaging. In 1982, physicians Suzan Lenz and Jorgen Lauritsen at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark, proposed the technology to improve the egg collection aspect of in vitro fertilization, or IVF. During IVF, a healthcare practitioner must remove mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries to fertilize them with sperm outside of the body.
Subject: Technologies, Reproduction
The Human Genome Project (1990-2003)
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific effort to sequence the entire human genome, that is, to produce a map of the base pairs of DNA in the human chromosomes, most of which do not vary among individuals. The HGP started in the US in 1990 as a public effort and included scientists and laboratories located in France, Germany, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom.
Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNA: A History of "The Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology" (2001), by Frederic Lawrence Holmes
In 2001, Yale University Press published Frederic Lawrence Holmes' book, Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNA: A History of "The Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology" (Replication of DNA), which chronicles the 1950s debate about how DNA replicates. That experiment verified that DNA replicates semi-conservatively as originally proposed by Watson and Crick. Rather than focusing solely on experiments and findings, Holmes's book presents the investigative processes of scientists studying DNA replication.
"The Premenstrual Syndrome" (1953), by Raymond Greene and Katharina Dalton
In 1953, Raymond Greene and Katharina Dalton, who were doctors in the UK, published The Premenstrual Syndrome in the British Medical Journal. In their article, Dalton and Greene established the term premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The authors defined PMS as a cluster of symptoms that include bloating, breast pain, migraine-headache, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and irritability. The article states that the symptoms begin one to two weeks before menstruation during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and they disappear upon the onset of the menstrual period.
Subject: Publications, Reproduction
"Presence of Fetal DNA in Maternal Plasma and Serum" (1997), by Dennis Lo, et al.
In the late 1990s researchers Yuk Ming Dennis Lo and his colleagues isolated fetal DNA extracted from pregnant woman’s blood. The technique enabled for more efficient and less invasive diagnoses of genetic abnormalities in fetuses, such as having too many copies of chromosomes.
"The linear arrangement of six sex-linked factors in drosophila, as shown by their mode of association” (1913), by Alfred Henry Sturtevant
In 1913, Alfred Henry Sturtevant published the results of experiments in which he showed how genes are arranged along a chromosome. Sturtevant performed those experiments as an undergraduate at Columbia University, in New York, New York, under the guidance of Nobel laureate Thomas Hunt Morgan. Sturtevant studied heredity using Drosophila, the common fruit fly. In his experiments, Sturtevant determined the relative positions of six genetic factors on a fly’s chromosome by creating a process called gene mapping.
Subject: Experiments, Publications
“Consensus on the Current Management of Endometriosis” (2013), by Neil P. Johnson and Lone Hummelshoj
“Consensus on the Current Management of Endometriosis”, henceforth “Consensus”, was written by the World Endometriosis Society, or WES, president Neil P. Johnson and chief executive Lone Hummelshoj and published in 2013 in Human Reproduction. “Consensus” makes recommendations about managing endometriosis for women and healthcare professionals. Endometriosis is a condition where endometrium, the tissue that usually lines the uterus, grows outside of the uterus and is characterized by painful periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, and infertility.
“Transfer of a Human Zygote” (1973), by David De Kretzer, Peter Dennis, Bryan Hudson, John Leeton, Alexander Lopata, Ken Outch, James Talbot, and Carl Wood
On 29 September 1973, researchers David De Kretzer, Peter Dennis, Bryan Hudson, John Leeton, Alexander Lopata, Ken Outch, James Talbot, and Carl Wood published “Transfer of a Human Zygote,” in The Lancet. In the article, the authors describe an experiment that resulted in one of the first pregnancies established via in vitro fertilization, or IVF. Prior to the article’s publication in 1973, there was no published evidence demonstrating whether IVF treatment would work in humans, although evidence existed showing that IVF worked in other mammals for breeding purposes.
Subject: Publications, Processes
Serial Cultivation of Human Diploid Cells in the Lab (1958–1961) by Leonard Hayflick and Paul S. Moorhead
From 1958 to 1961, Leonard Hayflick and Paul Moorhead in the US developed a way in the laboratory to cultivate strains of human cells with complete sets of chromosomes. Previously, scientists could not sustain cell cultures with cells that had two complete sets of chromosomes like normal human cells (diploid). As a result, scientists struggled to study human cell biology because there was not a reliable source of cells that represented diploid human cells. In their experiments, Hayflick and Moorhead created lasting strains of human cells that retained both complete sets of chromosomes.
"MicroSort, developed in 1990 by the Genetics and IVF Institute, is a form of pre-conception sex selection technology for humans. Laboratories located around the world use MicroSort technology to help couples increase their chances of conceiving a child of their desired sex. MicroSort separates male sperm cells based on which sex chromosome they contain, which results in separated semen samples that contain a higher percentage of sperm cells that carry the same sex chromosome.
Embryos in Wax (2002), by Nick Hopwood
Embryos in Wax: Models from the Ziegler Studio is a history of embryo wax modeling written by science historian Nick Hopwood. Published by the Whipple Museum of the History of Science University of Cambridge and the Institute of the History of Medicine University of Bern, 2002, the book, like the wax models, helps exemplify the visual and material culture of science.
The Cabinet of Frederik Ruysch
Frederik Ruysch's cabinet of curiosities, commonly referred to simply as the Cabinet, was a museum Ruysch created in the Netherlands in the late 160ss. The Cabinet filled a series of small houses that Ruysch rented in Amsterdam and contained over 2,000 specimens, including preserved fetuses and infants. The collection remained in Amsterdam until it was purchased by Tsar Peter the Great of Russia in 1717 and transferred to St. Petersburg, Russia.
Subject: Organizations, Outreach
Georgeanna Seegar Jones (1912-2005)
Georgeanna Seegar Jones was a reproductive endocrinologist who created one of America' s most successful infertility clinics in West Virginia and eventually, along with her husband Howard W. Jones MD, performed the first in vitro fertilization in America, leading to the birth of Elizabeth Jordan Carr. Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 6 July 1912. Her father, Dr. John King Beck Emory Seegar, was a practicing physician at the time working in the field of obstetrics.
Subject: People, Reproduction
"Experiments on Artificial Parthenogenesis in Annelids (Chaetopterus) and the Nature of the Process of Fertilization" (1901), by Jacques Loeb
Jacques Loeb showed that scientists could achieve artificial parthenogenesis with some types of annelid worm eggs through a series of experiments in 1900. Loeb published the results of his experiments in 1901 as "Experiments on Artificial Parthenogenesis in Annelids (Chaetopterus) and the Nature of the Process of Fertilization," in The American Journal of Physiology. Loeb 's results broadened the range of animals to which artificial parthenogenesis applied beyond sea urchins.
"Formation of Genetically Mosaic Mouse Embryos and Early Development of Lethal (t12/t12)-Normal Mosaics" (1964), by Beatrice Mintz
The paper "Formation of Genetically Mosaic Mouse Embryos and Early Development of Lethal (t12/t12)-Normal Mosaics," by Beatrice Mintz, describes a technique to fuse two mouse embryos into a single embryo. This work was published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology in 1964. When two embryos are correctly joined before the 32-cell stage, the embryo will develop normally and exhibit a mosaic pattern of cells as an adult.
Camillo Golgi (1843–1926)
Camillo Golgi studied the central nervous system during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Italy, and he developed a staining technique to visualize brain cells. Called the black reaction, Golgi’s staining technique enabled him to see the cellular structure of brain cells, called neurons, with much greater precision. Golgi also used the black reaction to identify structures within animal cells like the internal reticular apparatus that stores, packs, and modifies proteins, later named the Golgi apparatus in his honor.
William Bateson (1861-1926)
At the turn of the twentieth century, William Bateson studied organismal variation and heredity of traits within the framework of evolutionary theory in England. Bateson applied Gregor Mendel's work to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and coined the term genetics for a new biological discipline. By studying variation and advocating Mendelian genetics, Bateson furthered the field of genetics, encouraged the use of experimental methodology to study heredity, and contributed to later theories of genetic inheritance.