Kurt Benirschke studied cells, placentas, and endangered species in Germany and the US during the twentieth century. Benirschke was professor at the University of California in San Diego, California, and a director of the research department at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California. He also helped form the research department of the San Diego Zoo and its sister organization, the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species. Benirschke contributed to the field of embryology through his work on human and animal reproduction, including work on human placentas and birth defects, through work on the structure of chromosomes, and through work on the reproduction and conservation of endangered species.

Oliver Allison Ryder studied chromosomal evolution and endangered species in efforts for wildlife conservation and preservation at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California. Throughout his career, Ryder studied breeding patterns of endangered species. He collected and preserved cells, tissues, and DNA from endangered and extinct species to store in the San Diego Frozen Zoo, a center for genetic research and development in San Diego, California. Ryder and his team also sequenced vertebrate genomes under the Genome 10k initiative, a collaborative international program aiming to analyze the complete genomes of over ten thousand species of vertebrate. Ryder’s research has helped preserve species, restore diminished populations of wildlife, and protect biodiversity.

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). In 2009, the San Diego Zoo announced the creation of SDZICR, which expanded and replaced CRES, to provide central organization and management of scientific programs at the San Diego Zoo. By 2004, Allison Alberts was the director of research and for more than a decade oversaw the SDZICR's many research initiatives, including the collection and storage of genetic and reproductive information of rare and endangered animal and plant species.

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