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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Previous Events

Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease Lecture Series: From germ cell to stem cell: The contested interaction of chromosomes and cytoplasm in inheritance and development in the work of Marcella and Theodor Boveri 1887-1915

11th February 2011, 12:00 to 14:00, Room F009, Wolfson Research Institute, Stockton, TS17 6BH, Speaker: Dr Helga Satzinger from University College London

The Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease is delighted to invite you to a seminar given by Dr Helga Satzinger from University College London.


In collaboration with his wife Marcella (1863-1950), Theodor Boveri (1862-1915) investigated the role of chromosomes and cytoplasm in inheritance and development. Scrutinising the processes of fertilisation and cell division and by experimentally interfering into embryonic development they lay the ground for the chromosomal theory of heredity, which became a corner stone of genetics. But for them the problem of inheritance also included embryonic development - the change from the cells of the germ line to the differentiated ones of the somatic cell-line had to be explained. By experimentally changing the interplay of chromosomes and cytoplasm the Boveris and their co-workers showed that cytoplasm was reorganising the chromosomes during development.

Boveri's work was shadowed by the highly productive group of Thomas H. Morgan, which lead the way of genetics with their theory of the gene from 1915 onwards, focussing on genes on chromosomes only. It took more than half a century until the cytoplasm found again a place in genetics, especially developmental genetics.

The talk will look closer into the dynamics of the work of the Boveris and the conundrums they couldn't solve.

The lecture commences at midday until 2pm (lunch will be provided).  If you wish to attend please contact Rachel Simpson by Monday 7th February 2011 (for catering purposes):-

Rachel Simpson
Administrator/Outreach Officer
Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease
Wolfson Research Institute
University of Durham
Queen's Campus
University Boulevard
TS17 6BH
Tel: 0191 3340700



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