Visions of Cell BiologyReflections Inspired by Cowdry's "General Cytology"

Visions of Cell BiologyReflections Inspired by Cowdry's "General Cytology"

Karl S. Matlin, Jane Maienschein, and Manfred D. Laubichler

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226520483

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Although cell biology is often considered to have arisen following World War II in tandem with certain technological developments—in particular, the electron microscope and cell fractionation—its origins actually date to the 1830s and the development of cytology, the scientific study of cells. By 1924, with the publication of Edmund Vincent Cowdry’s General Cytology, the discipline had stretched beyond the bounds of purely microscopic observation to include as well the chemical, physical, and genetic analysis of cells. Inspired by this classic, watershed work, Visions of Cell Biology collects contributions from cell biologists, historians, and philosophers of science to explore the history and current status of cell biology. Despite extraordinary advances in describing both the structure and function of cells, cell biology tends to be overshadowed by molecular biology, a field that developed contemporaneously. This book remedies that unjust disparity through an investigation of cell biology’s evolution. Contributors show that modern concepts of cell organization, mechanistic explanation, epigenetics, molecular thinking, and even computational approaches all can be placed on the continuum of cell studies from cytology to cell biology and beyond.