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5 thoughts on “Developmental biology: ‘not a confined, specified discipline’?”

  1. As a PhD student I was delighted at the end of the essay, especially because the historical point of view was very enjoyable. It is always nice to turn back and learn how we got to these days situation. The competing interest statement says it all, and I find the dispute about which discipline came first rather academical and a little pointless. Developmental biology could be intended as a framework for asking questions in several other disciplines, as long as it is providing a fresh and compelling point of view on the question you are asking. Nevertheless, this essay is a highly suggested read!




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  2. I think you miss the point that Dev Biol is an umbrella science that, like physiology in its original sense, asks question at the systemic level but is not afraid to seek for explanations at all levels of complexity down to the gene. As such it is inclusive lending expertise from more specific disciplines such as biomechanics, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, anatomy and catalysing their interdisciplinary collaboration towards the fundamental biological questions – at the exact level at which diseases become manifest. See our joint advocacy campaign which has unfortunately not been mentioned: http://bsdb.org/advocacy/




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    1. I found Gilbert’s piece thought provoking and, indeed, wrote some comments on it in a Blogpost. Thought provoking because in trying to promote Developmental Biology it stretches history in an attempt to place Developmental Biology at the center of Biology. The claim is easy to disprove –my post is a very abridged version of a larger argument that is not difficult to make- and I am not sure how much help it is for the discipline. What is good about Developmental Biology is its subject: the development of an organism and that in this context disciplines like Cell Biology or Biochemistry find new questions and perspectives which can only be appreciated in the context of the dynamics of tissues when cells try to build organs and organisms. Furthermore, Developmental Biology is giving a new lease of life to Physics and many people are having fun for this. As for Genetics, read the post but as K. Brown suspects, to claim that Developmental Biology is less confined than Genetics is to miss the essence of Genetics as the language and the underpinning of all Biology. No problem with advocating this important branch of Biology but one should not do it by stretching reality, nice as the outcome might sound.




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  3. I definitely agree with you that Gilbert’s essay is fascinating and illuminating. I also found a lot of motivation. The developmental biologist study each model whith a lot of love, from the shape of the wing of a buterfly to the complex neural network. However, somethimes other disciplines, like oncology or inmunology, where medical students are more involved think that study how a ant develops is a waste of time but “nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of Evolution”, that means, in a way, that to understand all complex diseases we need to understand first how life develops. As Gilbert said, we are in a new golden age for developmental biology, starting the study of non-taditional model, trying to teach why is so important the developmental biology and I trully believe that is because of the passion of the people that works in the field.




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