(born Oct. 19, 1856, Geneva, Ill., U.S.—died March 3, 1939, New York, N.Y.) U.S. cell biologist. He joined the Columbia University faculty in 1891, where he became established as a pioneer in work on cell lineage (tracing the formation of different kinds of tissues from individual cells). His interests later extended to internal cellular organization and the problem of sex determination, leading to a series of papers (1905) on the role of chromosomes. Recognizing the importance of Gregor Mendel's findings, he realized that the role of chromosomes went far beyond the determination of sex and envisioned their function as important components in heredity as a whole, ideas that were a powerful force in shaping future genetic research.
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He spent the balance of his career at Columbia University where he was successively adjunct professor of biology (1891-94), professor of invertebrate zoology (1894 - 1897), and professor of zoology (from 1897).
Wilson is credited as America's first cell biologist. In 1898 he used the similarity in embryos to describe phylogenetic relationships. By observing spiral cleavage in molluscs, flatworms and annelids he concluded that the same organs came from the same group of cells and concluded that all these organisms must have a common ancestor.
Professor Wilson published many papers on embryology, and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1913.
110 Years of Orthopteran Cytogenetics, the Chromosomal Evolutionary Viewpoint, and Michael White's Signal Contributions to the Field
Jul 01, 2010; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] " one of the finest objects thus far discovered for the investigation of the minutest details of cell...