In the 1920s, a group of American biologists decided to initiate a new project: the creation of a comprehensive cytology textbook with individual chapters from many of the leaders in the field, most of whom already interacted on a regular basis during summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. When it appeared as General Cytology in 1924, edited by Edmund V. Cowdry, the volume sought to treat cytology comprehensively, but also to go beyond what the authors saw as the usual morphological considerations. In October 2014 another group of leading scientists, as well as historians and philosophers of biology came together at the MBL to reflect on Cowdry's General Cytology from the perspective of the 21st century. Among the scientists were not only individuals who clearly identified as cell biologists, but also those more focused on gene expression and its regulation, topics many would consider more properly as molecular biology. The historians and philosophers were also an eclectic group. The outcome of this and a subsequent meeting is Visions of Cell Biology: Reflections Inspired by Cowdry’s General Cytology, a book that examines the past, present, and future of cell biology.
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