n South African Medical Journal - The rise of developmental genetics - a historical account of the fusion of embryology and cell biology with human genetics and the emergence of the Stem Cell Initiative : how human genetics came to SA




Genetics and cell biology are very prominent areas of biological research with rapid advances being driven by a flood of theoretical, technological and informational knowledge. Big biology and small biology continue to feed off each other. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the productive interactions that have taken place between human geneticists and cell biologists at UCT, and credit is given to the enabling environment created led by Prof. Peter Beighton. The growth of new disciplines and disciplinary mergers that have swept away division of the past to make new exciting syntheses are discussed. We show how our joint research has benefitted from worldwide advances in developmental genetics, cloning and stem cell technologies, genomics, bioinformatics and imaging. We conclude by describing the role of the UCT Stem Cell Initiative and show how we are using induced pluripotent cells to carry out disease-in-the-dish studies on retinal degeneration and fibrosis.


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