Ralph L. Brinster

Ralph L. Brinster

Brinster in October 2011.
Born (1932-03-10) March 10, 1932[1]
Montclair, New Jersey
Nationality American
Fields Genetics
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Alma mater Rutgers University (B.S., 1953)
University of Pennsylvania (V.M.D., 1960) (Ph.D., 1964)
Notable awards

Grand Prix Charles-Leopold Mayer, FRA

March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, United States

Wolf Prize in Medicine, ISR

Gairdner Foundation International Award, CAN

National Medal of Science, United States

Ralph Lawrence Brinster[2] is an American geneticist and Richard King Mellon Professor of Reproductive Physiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.[3]

Birth and education

Ralph L. Brinster grew up on a small farm in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. He studied animal science as an undergraduate at the Cook School of Agriculture, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and completed his B.S. in 1953. He was an officer in the United States Air Force (1953–1956) and served during the Korean War. He returned from military service and earned his V.M.D. (1960) and his Ph.D. in Physiology (1964) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Research Impact

Ralph Brinster is acknowledged as one of the seminal founders of the field of mammalian transgenesis.[4][5][6] He is known throughout the scientific community for his revolutionary research in embryonic-cell differentiation, developmental mechanisms of gene control, and stem cell physiology.[5][7]

During the 1960s, Brinster pioneered the development of techniques to manipulate mouse embryos—his techniques have made the mouse the major genetic model for understanding the basis of human biology and disease.[5][6] His research has provided the experimental foundation for progress in germline genetic modification in a range of species, which has generated a revolution in biology, medicine, and agriculture.[7]

Research History

While a PhD candidate in the 1960s, Brinster developed the first reliable in vitro culture system for early mammalian embryos.[4][6] These techniques have been conserved to the present day and form the foundation for all experimentation with the mammalian embryo - including transgenic, embryonic stem cell, human in vitro fertilization, mammalian cloning, and knockout technology. This "Brinster Method" of embryo manipulation is so ubiquitous in modern biology that other scientists rarely cite the work in current publications.

Brinster first showed that it was possible to colonize a mouse blastocyst with stem cells from older embryos.[5][6] Moreover, Brinster first demonstrated that foreign teratocarcinoma cells could combine with native blastocyst cells to form adult "chimeric" mice, demonstrating the feasibility of this approach to change the genetic character of mice.[4][6] This discovery stimulated the search for embryonic stem cells and ultimately led to the development of the "knock-out mouse" by other teams. He was the first scientist to microinject fertilized eggs with RNA and DNA, and was at the forefront of the field in applying these microinjection methods to generate transgenic mice.[4][6]

Brinster and longtime collaborator Richard Palmiter pioneered techniques to transfer foreign genes into mammals, and they utilized these methods to elucidate the activity and function of genes. They developed the first "transgenic mice", and their seminal experiments catalyzed a worldwide revolution in genetic engineering in the 1980s. Transgenic mice are now used every day in thousands of laboratories around the world to investigate everything from cancer biology and cardiovascular disease to hair loss and abnormal behavior.

Their experiments showed that new genes could be, for the first time, introduced into the mammalian germline with the potential to increase disease resistance, enhance growth, and produce vital proteins like blood-clotting factors needed by hemophiliacs. In addition, they provided the first proof of expression of transgenes, the first example of cancer arising from a transgene, and the first proof of the targeted integration of DNA by egg injection. Each of these three individual discoveries have themselves launched entire fields of scientific inquiry.

Together, Palmiter and Brinster developed many of the first animal models of human disease throughout the 1980s.[8][9] Their partnership also yielded the first transgenic rabbits, sheep, and pigs.[10] This transcontinental collaboration constructed a body of work that formed the foundation for a generation of scientific progress in genetic modification via transgenesis, homologous recombination or "knock-out" techniques, and cloning.

In recent years, Brinster has continued to advance the field of stem cell biology, having made a series of catalyzing, transformational discoveries utilizing male germ line stem cells.

Awards and honors


External links

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