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Books, Journals, New Media
November 24, 1999

History of BiologyThe Birth of the Cell

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 1999;282(20):1973. doi:10.1001/jama.282.20.1973

Henry Harris, the Regius Professor of Medicine Emeritus and Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, a distinguished pathologist, is perhaps better described as a cell biologist, a term that is appropriate for a pathologist who has contributed extensively to cell biology.

This text is a history of the development of cell biology, a division of the biological sciences that stands as a cornerstone of the life sciences. He traces the development of cell biology from its origins in the 17th century, beginning with a brief reference to the ancient Greeks. However, it was not until the invention of the microscope that scientists were able to probe the structure of the plant and animal world at the cellular level. The pathway that Harris traces from its earliest beginnings ends with the recognition of the chromosome, the fundamentality of the longitudinal splitting of the chromosome in mitosis, and the discovery by Avery, McLeod, and McCarty that DNA was the genetic materiel.

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