This page gives a very brief travel through Historical Embryology (More? detailed History).
Much of the modern history of Medicine/Embryology is documented in the Nobel Prizes for Medicine. Alternatively, there is an external link to a page briefly identifying historic researchers in embryology. Also see WWW Links to other History of Medicine Resources.
For more current issues such as the Human Genome Project, new In Vitro Fertilization Techniques, Developmental Abnormalities, Birth Control and the many Ethical issues associated with the unborn child, see Embryology in the News Page.
Placenta and Embryonic Membranes - described in Rome by the greek physician Claudius Galen (129--210 AD) in a book "On The Formation of The Foetus" BBC brief biography
Galen dissecting a pig
Images of the Fetus- Leonardo da Vinci sketches accurate dissections of the late gestation fetus in relation to the pregnant uterus.
Fallopius, Gabriele (1523-1563) Disproved earlier notion that ovarian ligaments conducted ovum to uterus (Fallopian tube = uterine tube or oviduct) Ferrara, Pisa & Padua anatomist & botanist also described accurately the inner ear, ethmoid bone, lacrimal duct, vagina, and placenta.
Graaf, Regnier de. (1641-1673) described corpus luteum; Graafian follicle = a mature ovarian follicle. Delft physician, anatomist (1672).
Oocyte development in the Ovary - described in the dog by Von Baer. (a Baltic-German embryologist) In 1826 he discovered the mammalian, including human ovum (De ovi mammalium et hominis genesi. Lipsiae, 1827).
Cell Theory developed- Schleiden and Schwann proposed that the cell was the basic unit of organisms.
Schleiden, Matthias (1804-1881)- German botanist and microscopist
Schwann, Theodor (1810-1882)- German physiologist and microscopist who examined animal tissues. He also had an interest in embryology, studying notochord development in tadpoles.
Carnegie stages- developed from the initial collection of human embryos by Franklin Mall in the USA. The Carnegie Collection (after which the stages are named) contains more than 600 embryos and is now held in Washington.
Evaluation of Newborn Infants- A test designed by Dr Virginia Apgar used in nearly all maternity clinics to assess the newborn infants well being assigned scores for each of 5 indicators:
Heart Rate, Respiratory Effort, Reflex Irritability, Muscle Tone, Color
Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, July-August, 1953, p260
Dr Apgar with infant
First succesful Human in vitro fertilization (IVF)- carried out by Steptoe PC, et al. in the United Kingdom.
Lancet. 1978 Aug 12;2(8085):366. "Birth after the reimplantation of a human embryo."
First succesful successful germ-line genetic engineering of a multicellular animal, the fruitfly Drosophila.
Rubin GM, Spradling AC. Genetic transformation of Drosophila with transposable element vectors. Science. 1982 Oct 22;218(4570):348-53.
First succesful Cloning of a sheep- cloning of "dolly" carried out by Wilmut I, et al. in the United Kingdom
Nature. 1997 Feb 27;385(6619):810-3. "Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells."
The Human Genome- in February 2001 the Human Genome was simultaneously published in papers in both Science and Nature journals. While still incomplete it is the most accurate map of the genetic background for development. The sequence was developed by both an international consortium and a commercial group. Note that knowing what genes are present in the genome is only the first step, you then have to know their function. See also introduction to the HumanGenome pages.
Embryology in the News Page lets you know what is going on in research and medicine for embryology in a month by month layout.