John D. Biggers, 1923-2018

Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018

John D. Biggers, Physiologist/embryologist, passed away recently in Massachusetts.  Here is a memorial from Lluis Montoliu:

Dear colleagues,

 Just a short message to make you aware about the recent passing of John D. Biggers, on April 7, 2018.

 If you don’t know who this reproductive physiologist was, you should ask yourself who do you think defined the first media where mammalian embryos, mouse embryos, could be cultured in vitro, outside the oviduct, and still continue developing. That very simple technique, but fundamental to our work in transgenesis and enabling methods such as IVF, was developed by him, in collaboration with another giant pioneer Ann McLaren. They both co-authored a paper in Nature in 1958 (!) describing how one could obtain early mouse embryos, culture them in vitro, and put them back in a pseudopregnant female and still get pups. (Tim’s note:  for perspective, Harry Eagle was developing cell culture media around that time.  Remarkable to be able to culture ex utero mammalian embryos at this time!)

You can read this and other of his achievements in this obituary:

We need to remember where are we all coming from in this field, to acknowledge the colleagues who made outstanding contributions, making our work today easier and (even) possible.

 With kind regards


Lluis Montoliu, PhD