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Ross Granville Harrison

Born: 13-Jan-1870
Birthplace: Germantown, PA
Died: 30-Sep-1959
Location of death: New Haven, CT
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Zoologist, Biologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Embryology and tissue culture techniques

American zoologist Ross Granville Harrison discovered a way to grow cells outside the body, experimented with disembodied tissues, tested the effects of diverse fluids on those tissues, and conducted early organ transplantation experiments. In a 1906 experiment, he placed a piece of a frog's embryonic nerve tissue into a drop of frog lymphatic fluid, and noted that the nerve tissue did not die, but actually continued growing. Harrison's methodology formed the basis of modern tissue culture technique, a cornerstone of modern medical research which allows the study of isolated living cells in a controlled environment. When Hans Spemann won his Nobel Prize in 1935, many American scientists felt that Harrison deserved to share the Prize. Harrison's own student, John F. Enders, used his methodology to devise a test for mumps and to grow polio virus cultures, leading to development of Jonas Salk's vaccine.

In one of his groundbreaking transplantation experiments, he surgically sewed together portions of multiple frog larva -- the head from one species attached to the body of another -- to observe how cells behave during development. In another experiment, he took embryonic tissue from what would have developed into an amphibian's left limb, and attached it to the animal's other side, where it developed as a right limb. He founded the Journal of Experimental Zoology, and served as its managing editor from 1903 to 1946.

At the height of World War I, Harrison spoke out against the British government's blockade of Red Cross shipments of hospital supplies intended for the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria), calling the blockade a violation of the Geneva Convention. After retiring from Yale, he became chairman of the National Research Council.

Father: Samuel Harrison (engineer)
Mother: Catherine Barrington Diggs Harrison
Wife: Ida Lange Harrison (dated 1893-96, m. 6-Jan-1896)
Daughter: Elizabeth Harrison (physician, b. 2-Nov-1899, d. 5-Jan-2003)

    University: BA, Johns Hopkins University (1889)
    University: PhD Zoology, Johns Hopkins University (1894)
    Teacher: Morphology, Bryn Mawr College (1894-95)
    Medical School: MD, University of Bonn (1899)
    Professor: Gross Anatomy, Johns Hopkins University (1896-1907)
    Professor: Comparative Anatomy, Yale University (1907-27)
    Professor: Biology, Yale University (1927-38)

    Journal of Experimental Zoology Managing Editor (1903-46)
    National Research Council Chairman (1938-46)
    National Academy of Sciences 1913
    Royal Society
    German Ancestry


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