Saturday, April 07, 2007

March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology: Janet Rossant and Anne McLaren

This year's March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology was won by two female scientists: Janet Rossant, chief of research in development and stem cell biology at the University of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, and Anne McLaren at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute in Cambridge.

Janet Rossant's lab studies early mouse embryogenesis and human stem cell lines. According to her profile:

Dr. Rossant is internationally recognized for her pioneering research in mouse genetics; she says that the study of mice helps researchers to learn more about human genetics. She genetically manipulates the mouse genome – the total genes carried by a cell – to address problems that may arise during development. Because these mouse cells represent the early cells that form the placenta in humans, it becomes possible to predict what can go wrong in early pregnancy.
Rossant was interviewed about stem cell research on CBC radio's Sunday Edition in February (listen).

Anne McLaren was the first to grow a mouse embryo in a test tube then implant it into a "mother" for natural birth. Her lab currently studies the development of mouse "Primordial Germ Cells". In 2001 the International Journal of Developmental Biology published a touching tribute from her research students of the 1960s and 1970s:
The quality of Anne as a scientist and as a person is reflected in her role as a supervisor of research students. this story of what she did, and still does for them is a measure of her many talents. In Terri Hargrave's words "she was our role model: scientist, mentor, friend, mother and now grandmother!" Her students from the Edinburgh days, wish to record our very warm affection and heartfelt thanks.
Note: I didn't find any information about Rossant and McLaren winning the award on the March of Dimes web site. My source of information on the prize is the March 23, 2007 issue of Science.

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