Science has reached heights professors of 50 years ago would never have imagined. The once-deadly flu is now considered a passing ailment that doesn’t even require any treatment to recover from. The pandemic we suffered from in 2019 still has its effect but isn’t as fatal as it used to be. We are talking about 2022, who knows COVID-19 will also be considered a mere overnight ailment ten years from now? Anne McLaren laid the foundation of something that seemed impossible years ago.
Similarly, in Vitro fertilization. Freezing eggs for a particular time till the host is ready to give birth no longer sounds like a fool’s dream. All thanks to this wonderful geneticist.
Who is Anne McLaren?
Dame Anne McLaren was an English geneticist who studied to develop In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). She studied the development of embryos. Her biggest achievement was to help hundreds of couples to have children, despite their age and other factors.
The early life of Anne McLaren
Born on 26th April 1927, Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren grew up in London and Bodnar. She studied zoology at the Lady Margaret Hills, Oxford, before conducting postgraduate research on developmental biology. She was born to parents Henry McLaren and Christabel McNaughten.
Anne McLaren marriage
In 1952, Anne McLaren married Donald Michie, a fellow researcher she met at the university. She also got her Ph.D. degree in Zoology the same year.
Further achievements of Anne McLaren
Anne studied murine neurotropic viruses under Kingsley Sanders for her thesis research. She wanted to study the maternal environment and how it reacts to different naturing and nurturing elements. This work performed side by side with her husband. Donald from 1952 to 1959 at University College London and Royal Veterinary College.
After their marriage, both Anne and Donald researched under the supervision of J. B. S Haldane and Peter Medawar, two prominent biologists of the 90s. From there, the couple started studying the developmental biological aspects of embryos, keeping mice as their initial test subject. Many initial tests and experiments performed, all written down in different research papers to base their further research. Once Anne had successfully formed In Vitro embryos for mice, she placed these embryos inside a female mouse to see whether they reproduce or not.
Fortunately for the couple, the female mouse bore healthy children and the experiment claimed success. Noting down every little detail, Anne and Donald published a landmark paper in the Nature journal in which all their experimental findings listed.
Laying this foundation, Anne further intended to base the same technique on human females so they can bear healthy babies despite being infertile.
What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
IVF is a complex series of various procedures that help with fertility and prevent genetic problems that may come in the way of conceiving children. In short, it is a natural but artificial way of birthing children. The process may take about 2 months to start acting the first time it performed on a human. This time may reduced to half the next time IVF performed on the same female.
The science of IVF
During IVF, mature eggs are extracted from the ovaries of a female body and fertilized by sperm in an experimental lab. Once fertilized, the eggs are placed back into the uterus of the female body. The complete procedure of IVF may take about 3 weeks or longer, depending upon the number of steps the process is divided into.
Further achievements of Anne McLaren
After the divorce of Anne McLaren and Donald Michie in 1959, Anne continued to study the concepts of mammalian fertility, embryo transfer techniques, immunocontraception, and the mixing of early embryos on her own. She published a classic book in Chimeras in 1976 at the University of Edinburgh.
Anne McLaren became the director of the Medical Research Council mammalian development unit at the University College London in 1974 and published another book in 1980 on germ cells and soma of mammals.
Anne retired in 1992 and became the principal research associate at the Welcome Trust Cancer Research Gurdon UK institute in Cambridge. This was the last position held by Anne McLaren in her lifetime.
The death of Anne McLaren
On 7th July 2007, Anne along with her ex-husband was traveling to London from Cambridge via the M11 motorway for a conference when their car met a deadly crash, taking the life of the once married couple. At the time of her death, Anne was the author of nearly 330 research papers.
The students she wholeheartedly listened to will always remember her, and her superiors (the ones alive) always speak of her in good name.
All good things come to an end, and the life of Anne McLaren was no exception. Even though she isn’t in this world anymore, her studies and teachings along with her kindness and intelligence will always stay with us. It was due to her hard efforts and achievements that many women became mothers in this world.