About Robert Briggs
Robert W. Briggs' innovative contributions to developmental biology during his 40-year research career provided the groundwork for research on cloning metazoan animals and the genetic control of pattern development.
His work can be divided into four periods: (1) characterization of tumor growth in the developing frog—recognizing the importance of the behavior of tumors in the organization fields operative in developing systems, (2) the role of the nucleus in development, (3) the development of the technique of amphibian nuclear transplantation, and (4) the establishment of amphibian developmental genetics.
One of his many notable accomplishments came in 1952 when Briggs and his collaborator, Thomas King, pioneered and perfected the technique for nuclear transplantation, cloning a frog by nuclear transfer of embryonic cells.
While at IU (1956-1983), Briggs' research program on the effect of maternal gene products in the oocyte on the development of the embryo of the Mexican axolotl (a salamander) revealed how maternal gene products control early pattern formation. His studies on maternal genes gave direction to later molecular genetic research of others in Drosophila, Xenopus, zebrafish, chordates, and invertebrates.
Robert Briggs was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1960) and the National Academy of Science (1962). Among many other honors, he was awarded the prestigious Charles-Leopold Mayer Prize of the Academy of Sciences, Institute of France (1973).