Waddington | Conrad Hal | 1905-1975 | embryologist and professor of animal genetics, University of Edinburgh

Biographical Information

Occupation, Sphere of Activity

Conrad Hal Waddington was educated at the University of Cambridge where he took the natural sciences tripos, graduating in geology in 1926. His early postgraduate years included studies in geology, palaeontology, philosophy, and embryology. Between 1933-1945, Waddington was Embryologist and Lecturer in Zoology at Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge. He showed in 1933 that chemical messengers from certain tissues encourage others to grow. These studies of embryonic development led him to research the regulatory effects of genes on tissue and organ development. During the Second World War, Waddington engaged in operatios research for the military.

From 1947 Waddington occupied the post of chief geneticist at the new National Animal Breeding and Genetics Research Organisation (NABGRO), combining it with the position of chair of animal genetics at the University of Edinburgh, and a research institute was thus formed. In the 1950s, the Institute of Animal Genetics (as it was named) grew into the largest genetics department in the UK and one of the largest in the world. However, by the end of the 1950s, it had become more and more compartmentalised, and Waddington himself had become interested in the setting up of an Epigenetics laboratory.

In the 1960s Waddington played a major role in the expansion of the biology faculty of the University of Edinburgh. In 1970, he accepted an invitation from the State University of New York to spend two years in Buffalo occupying the Albert Einstein Chair in Science. Waddington held honorary degrees from the universities of Aberdeen, Dublin, Geneva, Montreal and Prague. He had a long record of publication, from 1939-1974.



Other Significant Information

Notable publications:

Introduction to Modern Genetics, ( 1939)

Organisers and Genes ( 1940)

The Scientific Attitude(1941)

Science and Ethics, (ed) (1942)

The Epigenetics of Birds (1952)

Principles of Embryology (1956)

The Ehical Animal (1960)

The Nature of Life (1961)

New Patterns in Genetics and Development ( 1962)

Biology for the Modern World (1962)

Principles of Development and Differentiation, (ed) (1966)

Towards a Theoretical Biology, vols. I and II (1969)

Towards a Theoretical Biology, vol. III ( 1970)

Behind Appearance (1970)

Gifford Lectures, the Nature of the Mind ( 1972)

Operational Research in World War Two (with Kenny, Longuet-Higgins and Lucas) (1973)

The Development of Mind (1973)

The Evolution of an Evolutionist ( 1975)

Honours, Qualifications and Appointments

1934-1945: Elected Fellow, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

1948: Elected Fellow, Royal Society

1957: Elected Member, Finnish Academy

1958: Awarded Commander of the Order, British Academy (CBE)

1959: Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1974: Elected Fellow, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina


List of sources for the biographical information:

Birse, Ronald M, Science at the University of Edinburgh 1583-1993, (Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh, 1994)

University of Edinburgh, Waddington Environment Library, ( http://www.cecs.ed.ac.uk/library/index.html, University of Edinburgh, 1998)

University of EdinburghUniversity of Edinburgh Journal, vol. 27, Obituary: Conrad Hal Waddington, ( University of Edinburgh Graduates Association, 1975-1976)

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Waddington, CH, ( http://www.eb.co.uk, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, undated)