Developmental biology in Geneva: a three century-long tradition

It was in the first half of the 18th century when life sciences started to flourish in the independent republic of Geneva. However, it is difficult to identify a genuine school of developmental biologists during that era. Nevertheless, several prominent scientists over the past two and a half centuries have established and maintained a strong tradition of studies in embryological development and reproduction. In this short historical account, we briefly pay tribute to these famous forerunners, by emphasizing both the originality and quality of their work, as well as the many accompanying conceptual and methodological advances. We start with Abraham Trembley (1710-1784) and the discovery of Hydra and of regeneration, and with Charles Bonnet (1720-1793) who, amongst other contributions, first observed parthenogenetic development. In the 19th century, Carl Vogt (1817-1895) and Edouard Claparede (1832-1871) were well-known scientists in this field of research, whereas Hermann Fol (1845-1892) can be considered as one of the pioneers, if not the founder, of causal embryology, through his experiments on lateral asymmetry in manipulated chicken. More recently, Emile Guyenot (1885-1963) and Kitty Ponse (1897-1982) perpetuated this tradition, which is well alive nowadays in the city of Calvin.

Published in:
Int J Dev Biol, 46, 1, 5-13
History and Philosophy of Sciences and Institute for the History of Medicine and Health, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

 Record created 2008-02-25, last modified 2018-12-03

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