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Material relating to the Epigenetics Research Group, 1952-1972

Identifier: Coll-41/8/7

Scope and Contents

Contains material relating to the funding of the group and staffing, administration and financial matters.


  • Creation: 1952-1972

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to the researcher completing a Data Protection undertaking form wherever noted. A small amount of the material has been redacted, pending a future review.

Biographical / Historical

Waddington first coined the word 'epigenetics' (as the plural noun of the already existing term 'epigenetic'), denoting the causal analysis of development, in his book Organisers and Genes (1940). He had long argued that advances in conquering infectious diseases had rendered the classical approach to disease largely irrelevant, and that the study of subtler problems in the development of 'normal' individuals was the way forward. The Epigenetics Research Group, attached to the Institute of Animal Genetics, was established to cover in its work 'all those processes by which a newly fertilised egg develops into the differentiated cells of the adult organism.' Established in April 1962 with Waddington as Honorary Director, the Group was funded by the Medical Research Council. A new laboratory to house the work was opened in 1965, following funding from the Wellcome Foundation and the Distillers Company.

However, the Group did not develop in quite the way Waddington had envisaged; this was in some part due to the discovery, soon after the Laboratory started, of DNA and RNA hybridisation techniques which led to a channeling of resources into molecular rather than developmental biology.


1 box

Physical Location


Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
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