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McLaren, Anne Laura

society cell research embryology

(1927– ) British geneticist.

As a daughter of Lord Aberconway, horticulturalist and a creator of the famous garden at Bodnant in North Wales, Anne McLaren might have been expected to work in botany. In fact she studied zoology at Oxford and afterwards specialized in developmental biology and genetics at London and Edinburgh. From 1974–92 she directed the Medical Research Council’s Mammalian Development Unit in London, working mainly in embryology and using mice. For example, she showed that a cell type from the testes of mice embryos can develop to give a variety of cell types in culture, depending on its environment. Such work has implications in sex determination in germ cells, in IVF, in twinning and in the development of malignancy. She became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1975, and in 1991 its foreign secretary, a major post in British science; she was the first woman to construction of first an officer of the Society. She has been a leading and successful advocate for continuing research in the controversial field of human embryology.

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