International Mammalian Genome Society

The 16th International Mouse Genome Conference (2002)


Rosa Beddington, DPhil

March 23, 1956 May 18, 2001

The Developmental Genetics session this year is dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague Rosa Beddington. Rosa was one of the most gifted experimental embryologists of her generation. She could visualize the morphological changes in early embryos that baffled the rest of us. She was able to dissect parts of the mouse embryo that others could not even see, and transplant them to donor embryos, to establish fate maps of postimplantation embryos. Her work on the mouse node rewrote textbooks, showing that the anterior visceral endoderm was the signaling center responsible for anterior patterning during early mammalian development. Rosa identified genes expressed days before gastrulation that are responsible for establishing the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo in mouse, which were subsequently shown to be responsible for the same process in frogs. 

Rosa thought deeply about biology and would not tolerate sloppy thinking, but was always keen to talk about and make suggestions for your work . She was an excellent mentor, and took real pleasure in talking with students and postdocs. She was also a talented artist and a great socializer.

Among many other honors, Rosa was a Fellow of the Royal Society and was Head of the Division of Mammalian Development at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill until her illness became too much and she retreated to her house in the Oxford countryside at Great Tew. She had a tremendous impact scientifically and personally on many of us working in mammalian development. I was honored that the cover of Genesis publishing our article of the role of quaking in vasculogenesis was graced by a picture of the flower tapestry that she made at Great Tew. Her death after complications from cancer leaves another void in our scientific community.  

Please also see

1) http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=73792

2) Cell 105: 709-710

3) Nature 412: 138

4) Genesis 32: cover


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