Biologist, 1900-2001. Hamburger attended the Universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Munich, and Freiburg, receiving his Ph.D. in zoology under the supervision of Hans Spemann in 1925. He came to Chicago in 1932 as a Rockefeller fellow to work in Frank R. Lillie’s laboratory at the University of Chicago, studying the embryology of the chick embryo. While in Chicago, Hamburger was dismissed from his faculty position in Germany due to the rising Nazi party’s policies, and he chose to remain in the United States. In 1935 Hamburger joined Washington University as an assistant professor of zoology. He served as chairman of the Department of Biology from 1941 to 1966. Though he retired as professor emeritus in 1969, Hamburger continued his research until the mid-1980s. Hamburger is best known for his work in experimental embryology, neuroembryology and the study of programmed cell death.
Hamburger discusses major points in his long career as an embryologist – his early work in Germany with Hans Spemann and the study of the organizer effect; his experience coming to the United States in 1932 as a Rockefeller fellow and staying on after Hitler’s “cleansing of the professions” in Germany; joining the faculty of Washington University and his research there. Hamburger talks about his colleagues such as Rita Levi-Montalcini and their discovery of naturally occurring neuronal death, his work with Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen on the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF), and his study of animal behavior development and motility.
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