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Dame Anne McLaren: Google Doodle celebrates the 94th birthday of British biological scientist and developmental biology pioneer



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Google Doodle celebrates the 94th birthday of a British biological scientist Dame Anne McLaren, English geneticist who pioneered key advances in mammalian genetics and embryology that contributed to a more prominent understanding of developmental reproductive biology and made ready for propels in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments, on April 26, 2021.

Who was Dame Anne McLaren?

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Dame Anne McLaren

Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren was born on 26 April 1927 in London, England. She was a British researcher who was a pioneer figure in developmental biology. Her work helped lead to human in vitro fertilization (IVF). She got numerous distinctions for her contributions to science, including appointment as an officer of the Royal Society.

Anne McLaren lived in London until the war, when her family moved to their estate at Bodnant, North Wales. As a kid she showed up in the science fiction film version of H.G. Wells’ novel “The Shape of Things to Come”, released in 1936.

She read zoology at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, later acquiring a MA. Researching mite infestation of Drosophila under J.B.S. Haldane, she proceeded with her post-graduate studies at University College London from 1949, first under Peter Medawar on the genetics of rabbits and then on neurotropic murine viruses under Kingsley Sanders. She acquired her D.Phil. in 1952 and married fellow student Dr Donald Michie on 6 October 1952.

Anne McLaren learned zoology at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, getting a Ph.D. in 1952. That same year, at University College London (UCL) with her husband, Donald Michie, she started fundamental research into the mechanisms driving the embryonic skeletal development of mice. She and Michie at that point moved to the Royal Veterinary College (1955–59), where she was responsible for the first successful in vitro culture and uterine implantation of mouse embryos, which were succesfully conveyed to term.

In 1958, Anne McLaren published a landmark Nature paper with John D. Biggers revealing the first successful development and birth of mice in vitro, a paper which has been called “one of the most significant papers in the history of reproductive biology and medicine”.

Nonetheless, the marriage finished in divorce in 1959, and Anne McLaren moved to the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh to proceed with her research. The couple stayed on great standing; Michie likewise moved to Edinburgh.

Anne McLaren at that point completed huge work in the improvement of mammalian chimeras at the University of Edinburgh (1959–74). (Chimeras are animals comprised of cells that started from at least two genetically distinct zygotes.)

She came back to UCL as director of the Medical Research Council’s Mammalian Development Unit (1974–92), and, following her compulsory retirement, she served as a first scientist at the Wellcome Trust (1992–2007).

Anne McLaren spent the next 15 years (1959–1974) at the Institute of Animal Genetics, studying a variety of topics related to fertility, development and epigenetics, including the development of mouse embryonic transfer, immunocontraception, and the skeletal characteristics of chimerae.

In 1974, Anne McLaren left Edinburgh to become the Director of the MRC Mammalian Development Unit in London. In 1992, she retired from the Unit and moved to Cambridge, joining the Wellcome/CRC Institute, later the Gurdon Institute. She was made a Fellow-Commoner of Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1991.

Anne McLaren was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1975. She was the first woman to serve as an officer within the society’s 330-year history, first as foreign secretary (1991–96) and afterward as VP (1992–96).

McLaren was additionally president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (presently the British Science Association, 1993–94). She was selected Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1993.

Through the association and its events, Dame Anne McLaren engaged audiences across Britain on the miracles of science, engineering, and technology to make these topics more available to everybody.

Dame Anne McLaren’s work frequently took her outside the University. She was a member of the committee set up to ask into the technologies of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryology, which later created the Warnock Report. She was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 1991–2000.

In 2002, she was awarded the Japan Prize with Andrzej K. Tarkowski for their contribution to developmental biology, and in 2007 she was awarded the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

In 2004, Dame Anne McLaren co-founded the Frozen Ark, a repository of genetic material from endangered animals expected for both investigation and potential cloning applications.

Anne McLaren (aged 80) and her ex-husband Donald Michie (aged 83) were killed in a street accident on 7 July 2007, when their car left the M11 motorway as they traveled from Cambridge to London.

On April 26, 2021, Google observes Anne McLaren’s 94th Birthday with a Google Doodle.

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