Embryology

Embryology: timeline of key events

Known as the father of modern physiology, von Haller was a physician who discovered the autonomous nature of the heart and the mechanism of respiration. He also discovered that bile helps digest fats and made many contributions to understanding the distinction between nerve impulses and muscle contractions. During his time he put forward different theories about the nature of embryological development, one of which proposed that the new individual exists within the maternal egg prior to conception. He also put forward an accurate model of fetal growth during gestation, showing that the growth was faster at the beginning than later on. 1708-10-16T00:00:00+0000Known as the father of modern physiology, von Haller was a Swiss physician who discovered the autonomous nature of the heart and the mechanism of respiration. He also discovered that bile helps digest fats and made many contributions to understanding the distinction between nerve impulses and muscle contractions. During his time he put forward different theories about the nature of embryological development, one of which proposed that the new individual exists within the maternal egg prior to conception. He also put forward an accurate model of fetal growth during gestation, showing that the growth was faster at the beginning than later on. 1777-12-12T00:00:00+0000von Baer was a biologist who helped found the discipline of embryology and developmental biology. Much of his early work was on chick embryology. In 1827 he published the first description of the mammalian egg cell. This was based on his investigations of the structure of the ovum in the dog. He found it to be a small yellow spot floating in follicular fluid. von Baer developed the germ-layer theory which holds that four layers of cells are formed in vertebrate eggs and that each layer always gives rise to certain tissues in the adult organism. Based on his research he also showed that while the early development of embryo of one species resembled that of other species, it passed through a number of states that became progressively different from each other so that the adult never resembles other species.1792-02-17T00:00:00+0000Remak was a Polish-German embryologist, physiologist and neurologist who is best known for showing that all cells come from the division of pre-existing cells. He first made this discovery while observing red blood cells from chicken embryos in various stages of division. Later on he confirmed the same process happened in the cell of every frog's egg immediately after fertilisation. Remak also discovered unmyelinated nerve fibers and the nerve cells in the heart. Despite his achievements, Remak never gained a full position as professor because of his Jewish background. 1815-07-26T00:00:00+0000Roux was a German zoologist who helped pioneer experimental embryology. Using frogs' his work consisted of interfering with developing embryos to observe how the structure of organs and tissues were affected. Roux was also instrumental in the development of the principle of tissue culture through his experiments with chick embryos in 1885. 1850-06-09T00:00:00+0000Remak was a Polish-German embryologist, physiologist and neurologist who is best known for showing that all cells come from the division of pre-existing cells. He first made this discovery while observing red blood cells from chicken embryos in various stages of division. Later on he confirmed the same process happened in the cell of every frog's egg immediately after fertilisation. Remak also discovered unmyelinated nerve fibers and the nerve cells in the heart. Despite his achievements, Remak never gained a full position as professor because of his Jewish background. 1865-08-29T00:00:00+0000Spemann was an experimental embryologist. He won the 1935 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering embryonic induction, the process that directs parts of an embryo to develop groups of cells into particular tissues and organs. This was based on work he carried out on large eggs of amphibians in the 1920s, which revealed the existence of an area in the embryo that was responsible for producing different parts of the embryo. Parts of the head are produced by the anterior parts of the area, and parts of the tail by the posterior parts. In 1928 he performed the first successful somatic cell nuclear transfer in amphibian embryos. It marked the first move towards cloning. 1869-06-27T00:00:00+0000von Baer was a Prussian-Estonian biologist who helped found the discipline of embryology and developmental biology. Much of his early work was on chick embryology. In 1827 he published the first description of the mammalian egg cell. This was based on his investigations of the structure of the ovum in the dog. He found it to be a small yellow spot floating in follicular fluid. von Baer developed the germ-layer theory which holds that four layers of cells are formed in vertebrate eggs and that each layer always gives rise to certain tissues in the adult organism. Based on his research he also showed that while the early development of embryo of one species resembled that of other species, it passed through a number of states that became progressively different from each other so that the adult never resembles other species. 1876-11-28T00:00:00+0000Just was an African-American biologist and embryologist whose pioneering work on marine mammal cell fertilisation advanced the understanding of cell division, asexual reproduction, hydration and dehydration in living cells. This work helped to demonstrate the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. His work also showed the effect of ultra violet rays on egg cells. Unable to gain an appointment at an American university of account of racial discrimination, Just moved firstly to Italy and then to Germany and France to continue his research. 1883-08-14T00:00:00+0000Lewis was a developmental geneticist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. He made these discoveries based on the fruit fly. By crossbreeding thousands of flies he demonstrated that genes were arranged on the chromosome in the same order as their body segments, whereby the first set of genes controls the development of the head and thorax, the middle set the abdomen, and the final set the hind parts. He also discovered that the genetic regulatory functions could overlap. A fly with a defective gene in the thoracic region could develop an extra set of wings. His work helped explain the causes of congenital deformities. 1918-05-20T00:00:00+0000Roux was a German zoologist who helped pioneer experimental embryology. Using frogs' his work consisted of interfering with developing embryos to observe how the structure of organs and tissues were affected. Roux was also instrumental in the development of the principle of tissue culture through his experiments with chick embryos in 1885.1924-09-15T00:00:00+0000McLaren was a major pioneer in the development of IVF. She was also the key architect behind the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act (1990) which provided the world’s first legal guidelines for infertility treatment and all human embryo research. Following this Act, McLaren served for 10 years on the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, established in 1991, and became a critical player in debates about the governance of embryonic stem cells for therapy. She also made history in 1991 by becoming the Royal Society’s first woman officer. 1927-04-26T00:00:00+0000Gregory Pincus and EV Enzmann found that when they isolated rabbit oocytes from the Graafian follicle and placed them in culture they spontaneously developed from the arrested dictyate stage to the metaphase-II stage.1935-01-01T00:00:00+0000The observation was reported by Gregory Pincus and Barbara Saunders, 'The comparative behavior of mammalian eggs in vivo and in vitro: VI. The maturation of human ovarian ova', Anat. Rec., 75 (1939), 537–45.1939-01-01T00:00:00+0000Spemann was a German experimental embryologist. He won the 1935 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering embryonic induction, the process that directs parts of an embryo to develop groups of cells into particular tissues and organs. This was based on work he carried out on large eggs of amphibians in the 1920s, which revealed the existence of an area in the embryo that was responsible for producing different parts of the embryo. Parts of the head are produced by the anterior parts of the area, and parts of the tail by the posterior parts. In 1928 he performed the first successful somatic cell nuclear transfer in amphibian embryos. It marked the first move towards cloning.1941-09-09T00:00:00+0000Just was an African-American biologist and embryologist whose pioneering work on marine mammal cell fertilisation advanced the understanding of cell division, asexual reproduction, hydration and dehydration in living cells. This work helped to demonstrate the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. His work also showed the effect of ultra violet rays on egg cells. Unable to gain an appointment at an American university of account of racial discrimination, Just moved firstly to Italy and then to Germany and France to continue his research.1941-10-27T00:00:00+0000Wieschaus is an evolutionary developmental biologist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for research into genetic controls during early embryonic development. Working together with Nüsslein-Volhard on embryo formation in Drosophila), the fruit fly, Wieschaus helped establish that approximately 5,000 of the fly's 20,000 genes are important to embryo development, of which 150 are essential. 1947-06-08T00:00:00+0000C.H. Waddington, The Strategy of the Genes: A Discussion of Some Aspects of Theoretical Biology (London, 1957).1957-01-01T00:00:00+0000A.D. Riggs, 'X inactivation, differentiation, and DNA methylation', Cytogenet Cell Genet, 14 (1975), 9–25; R. Sager, R. Kitchin, 'Selective silencing of eukaryotic DNA', Science, 189/4201 (1975), 426-33. 1975-01-01T00:00:00+0000A team led by John Buster at UCLA Medical Center successfully non-surgically transferred an embryo from one human to another. The procedure was used to help an infertile woman. She received the embryo donated by another woman. In contrast to the in vitro procedure as was used in the Louise Brown case—in which the mother’s egg is fertilised by the father’s sperm outside the womb—the transplant pregnancy started with in vitro fertilisation.1984-02-03T00:00:00+00001995-01-01T00:00:00+0000Lewis was an American developmental geneticist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. He made these discoveries based on the fruit fly. By crossbreeding thousands of flies he demonstrated that genes were arranged on the chromosome in the same order as their body segments, whereby the first set of genes controls the development of the head and thorax, the middle set the abdomen, and the final set the hind parts. He also discovered that the genetic regulatory functions could overlap. A fly with a defective gene in the thoracic region could develop an extra set of wings. His work helped explain the causes of congenital deformities. 2004-07-21T00:00:00+0000McLaren was a major pioneer in the development of IVF. She was also the key architect behind the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act (1990) which provided the world’s first legal guidelines for infertility treatment and all human embryo research. Following this Act, McLaren served for 10 years on the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, established in 1991, and became a critical player in debates about the governance of embryonic stem cells for therapy. She also made history in 1991 by becoming the Royal Society’s first woman officer. 2007-07-07T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
16 Oct 1708Albrecht von Haller was born in Bern, Switzerlandvon HallerUniversity of Gottingen
12 Dec 1777Albrecht von Haller diedvon HallerUniversity of Gottingen
17 Feb 1792Karl Ernst von Baer was born in Piep estate, Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire (now Piibe, Estonia)von BaerSt Petersburg Academy of Sciences
26 Jul 1815Robert Remak was born in Posen, PrussiaRemak 
9 Jun 1850Wilhelm Roux was born in in Jena, GermanyRouxUniversity of Halle
29 Aug 1865Robert Remak diedRemak 
27 Jun 1869Hans Spemann born in Stuttgart, Württemberg (now Germany)Spemann University of Wurzburg
28 Nov 1876Karl Ernst von Baer diedvon BaerSt Petersburg Academy of Sciences
14 Aug 1883Ernest E Just was born in Charleston, South Carolina, USA JustHoward University, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute
20 May 1918Edward B Lewis was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, USALewisCalifornia Institute of Technology
15 Sep 1924Wilhelm Roux diedRouxUniversity of Halle
26 Apr 1927Anne McLaren was born in London, United KingdomMcLarenUniversity College London, Edinburgh University, Cambridge University
1935Rabbit oocytes shown to resume meiosis spontaneously in culturePincus, EnzmannHarvard University
1939Human occytes shown to complete meiosis in vitroPincus, SaundersHarvard University
9 Sep 1941Hans Spemann diedSpemannUniversity of Wurzburg
27 Oct 1941Ernest E Just diedJustHoward University, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute
8 Jun 1947Eric F Wieschaus was born in South Bend, Indiana, USAWieschaus European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Princeton University
1957Conrad Waddington develops model of epigenetic landscape to show the process of cellular decision-making during biological developmentWaddngtonCambridge University
1975DNA methylation suggested as mechanism behind X-chomosome silencing in embryosRiggs, Sager, KitchenCity of Hope National Medical Center, Harvard University
3 Feb 1984First human embryo-transfer baby bornBusterUniversity California Los Angeles
1995Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Eric Wieschaus and Edward B Lewis jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for illuminating the genetic control of embryonic developmentNusslein-Volhard, Wieschaus, Lewis 
21 Jul 2004Edward B Lewis diedLewisCalifornia Institute of Technology
7 Jul 2007Anne McLaren died McLarenUniversity College London, Edinburgh University, Cambridge University

16 Oct 1708

Albrecht von Haller was born in Bern, Switzerland

12 Dec 1777

Albrecht von Haller died

17 Feb 1792

Karl Ernst von Baer was born in Piep estate, Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire (now Piibe, Estonia)

26 Jul 1815

Robert Remak was born in Posen, Prussia

9 Jun 1850

Wilhelm Roux was born in in Jena, Germany

29 Aug 1865

Robert Remak died

27 Jun 1869

Hans Spemann born in Stuttgart, Württemberg (now Germany)

28 Nov 1876

Karl Ernst von Baer died

14 Aug 1883

Ernest E Just was born in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

20 May 1918

Edward B Lewis was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

15 Sep 1924

Wilhelm Roux died

26 Apr 1927

Anne McLaren was born in London, United Kingdom

1935

Rabbit oocytes shown to resume meiosis spontaneously in culture

1939

Human occytes shown to complete meiosis in vitro

9 Sep 1941

Hans Spemann died

27 Oct 1941

Ernest E Just died

8 Jun 1947

Eric F Wieschaus was born in South Bend, Indiana, USA

1957

Conrad Waddington develops model of epigenetic landscape to show the process of cellular decision-making during biological development

1975

DNA methylation suggested as mechanism behind X-chomosome silencing in embryos

3 Feb 1984

First human embryo-transfer baby born

1995

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Eric Wieschaus and Edward B Lewis jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for illuminating the genetic control of embryonic development

21 Jul 2004

Edward B Lewis died

7 Jul 2007

Anne McLaren died