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The Symposia, 1933 — 2003

1954:   The Mammalian Fetus: Physiological Aspects of Development, Vol. XIX

Organizer: Milislav Demerec

Table of Contents

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The Carnegie Institution of Washington's Station for Experimental Evolution had been established at Cold Spring Harbor in 1904, with Charles Davenport as director. It was renamed the Department of Genetics in 1921 to better reflect that the research was now focused on genetics for its own sake, independent of its relationship to evolution. Although Demerec makes no mention of it in the foreword to the Symposium volume, that 1954 was the 50th anniversary of Carnegie's presence at Cold Spring Harbor may have prompted him to choose this topic. The Department of Embryology in Carnegie headquarters in Washington was one of the oldest of Carnegie's departments, and Demerec's selection of an embryological topic may have been a diplomatic gesture to remind headquarters that the outpost at Cold Spring Harbor was indeed a part of the Institution. The principal advisor, S. R. M. Reynolds, was a member of the Embryology department.

Although the mammalian fetus may have been

removed from the genetics favored by Demerec, it was not too remarkable a choice, for this was a period of active research on fetal development. For example, A. S. Parkes was working on the endocrine control of fetal development while E. C. Amoroso was carrying out his comparative studies on the placenta. The classic studies by Rogers Brambell on the functional interaction between mother and fetus through the placenta were underway and he presented a paper on protein transport across the placenta. Demerec did manage to squeeze in a talk on genetics; Salome Glueksohn-Wealsch discussed the genetics of developmental abnormalities in the mouse.

Jan A. Witkowski

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