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New book explores history of cell biology at Rockefeller

The story of how a Rockefeller University laboratory contributed to the founding of the new science of modern cell biology has been published by The Rockefeller University Press. Entering an Unseen World: A Founding Laboratory and Origins of Modern Cell Biology 1910–1974, by Carol L. Moberg, is available in hardcover and e-book formats.

130213_SCAN_enteringanunseenworld_cover060“It is an in-depth story of a lab where several important events coalesced and a wealth of previously unconnected activities were put together by a few individuals,” says editor and author Carol L. Moberg, senior research associate in the late Ralph Steinman’s laboratory.

The story begins in 1910, in a laboratory devoted to studying cancer, and it culminates in 1974 when the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists, Albert Claude, Christian de Duve, and George Palade for their discoveries that linked structures inside cells to their functions. Chapters by Moberg devoted to the early years offer a compelling narrative about this laboratory while focusing on five aspects of how the science unfolded through time: the hundreds of scientists involved, a nurturing environment, the experimental procedures developed, the instruments devised and mastered, and the discoveries made in a previously unseen world.

First-person chapters by 22 scientists associated with the laboratory follow. Nearly 150 classic illustrations and photographs document the evolution of their discoveries.

“The book shows the human side of process and progress as this science came to life,” Moberg says.

Moberg, who has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Columbia University, has been a member of the Steinman lab for twenty years. Her articles on scientists, science history and biomedical science have been published in Scientific American, Science, The Journal of Experimental Medicine and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. She was co-editor and contributor to Launching the Antibiotic Era and is the author of René Dubos, Friend of the Good Earth.

Contributors are Vincent G. Allfrey, Günter Blobel, Mary Bonneville, Samuel Dales, Christian de Duve, Marilyn G. Farquhar, Walther F. Goebel, Rollin D. Hotchkiss, James D. Jamieson, James A. Lake, Guido Majno, Miklós Muller, George E. Palade, Sanford L. Palay, George D. Pappas, David D. Sabatini, Peter Satir, Philip Siekevitz, Maya Simionescu, Ralph M. Steinman, Walther Stoeckenius and William Trager.