Degeneration in Miniature: History of Cell Death and Aging Research in the Twentieth Century

Sydney Brenner Scholarships Lectures

Library & Archives invites you to a Special Lecture

TODAY, Thursday, June 9, 2016, 1:00pm


Dr. Lijing Jiang, Princeton University, 2013 Sydney Brenner Scholar


Degeneration in Miniature: History of Cell Death and Aging Research in the Twentieth Century

Location: Carnegie Library, Szybalski Reading Room (lunch provided)


Once perceived as an unimportant occurrence in living organisms, cell degeneration was reconfigured as an important biological phenomenon in development, aging, health, and diseases in the twentieth century. The talk tells a twentieth-century history of scientific investigations on cell degeneration, including cell death and aging. By describing four central developments led by scientists such as Leonard Hayflick, Robin Holiday and Robert Horvitz, I trace the emergence of the degenerating cell as a scientific object, describe the generation of a variety of concepts, interpretations and usages associated with cell death and aging, and analyze the transforming influences of the rising cell degeneration research. Particularly, I show how the changing scientific practices about cellular life in embryology, cell culture, aging research, and molecular biology of Caenorhabditis elegans shaped the interpretations about cell degeneration in the twentieth-century as life-shaping, limit-setting, complex, yet regulated. These practices and perspectives created a special kind of interconnectivity between different fields and led to a level of interdisciplinarity within cell degeneration research that we continue to experience now.

Following the talk there will be a networking session organized by the PDLC and the Library to learn about Lijing’s transition from bench scientist to historian of science.

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