Model History

Congratulations on the excellent supplement of June 2 on model organisms.1 The section on Caenorhabditis elegans brought back memories for a 78-year-old experimental biologist.

While celebrating the appropriate Nobel recognition of Sydney Brenner, Robert Horvitz, and John Sulston for their outstanding contributions to science using C. elegans as a model organism, I am sure that they would want to acknowledge the role of Berkeley biologist Ellsworth C. Dougherty. In the late 1940s, along with V. Nigon, Dougherty isolated this soil nematode and, subsequently, with Eder L. Hansen, Warwick L. Nicholas, and others, worked out sterile laboratory culture conditions in defined media. Dougherty's passion was to establish Caenorhabditis as a model metazoan organism to compete with the microbiology systems. It is my understanding that he introduced Brenner to Caenorhabditis during a visit that Sydney made in 1963 to Berkeley.

Excellent summaries of this early work are published in...

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