Anne Mclaren celebrated her 80th birthday in April with a special symposium on germ and stem cells. In June, she lectured at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s renowned Mouse Course for 25 years.
Anne Murray’s pioneering work in mouse reproduction paved the way for many of the reproductive technologies we take for granted today. Together with Donald Michie, she found that temperature extremes in the animal house could affect litter size and induce variations in the body weight of littermates. This research led to theories concerning robustness in growth and development, wherein inbreeding may reduce the ability to compensate for environmental changes.
In 1959, Anne went from London to Edinburgh to pursue her study on mammalian fertility, including embryo-uterine interactions, hormonal regulation of implantation, immunological aspects of the reproductive system, and immunization as a method of contraception. Anne MacKenzie was one of the pioneers in the utilization of delusion as a powerful experimental tool to study embryogenesis, lineage allocation, and cell-cell interactions during tissue differentiation. She researched the hormonal control of implantation, immunological aspects of reproduction, and immunization as a means of contraception. The exciting results of the hybrid research were summarised in Anne’s monograph on “Mammalian Chimeras,” published in 1976, shortly after she returned to University College, London to become Director of the Medical Research Council’s Mammalian Development Unit (the “MDU”).
Anne Mclaren Soma’s book Germ Cells and Soma, published in 1981, explores the origins of germ cells during early gastrulation. She did not make all of the critical findings herself but always asked the right questions and encouraged others to provide the answers. She continued to investigate the role of somatic cells and to uncover the molecular factors that regulate germ cell meiotic differentiation, as well as to investigate the impact of genomic imprinting on the origin and development of embryonic germ (EG) cells (the stem cells that are derived from germ cells). Anne McLaren was a pioneer of stem cell research at the MRC’s National Institute of Medical Research in London. Her most recent publication was in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Anne was heavily involved in all aspects of sex determination, germ cells, and imprinting.
Her clarity of thought on these topics, which she brilliantly addressed in a recent Commentary in the first issue of Cell Stem Cell, will be deeply missed. She then served for ten years on the newly established regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
MDU established a cluster of expertise in mouse embryology, reproductive biology, and genetics. Anne received numerous accolades and prizes, including the Japan Prize in 2002 and the Royal Society’s Royal Medal. She was the third female president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the fourth female recipient of the March of Dimes Prize in the previous twelve years. In the 300-year history of the Royal Society, She was the organization’s first female officer. According to her family and coworkers, she was a leading proponent of social conscience and ethical responsibility in biomedical research and an iconic figure of scientific integrity.