GOOGLE Doodle today celebrates what would be pioneering fertility scientist Anne McLaren’s 94th birthday.
The hero geneticist’s pioneering work led to human in vitro fertilisation – known as IVF – giving hope to millions who want to start a family.
Who is Anne McLaren?
Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren was a British scientist who was a leading figure in developmental biology.
McLaren was born on April 26, 1927, in London, but moved to her family’s estate at Bodnant, Wales at the start of World War II.
Her father was a keen gardener and a Liberal MP.
As a child, she had a small role in the 1936 H.G. Wells’ sci-fi film The Shape of Things to Come.
Her passion for science saw her study zoology at Oxford University.
Her ground breaking research in the 50s saw her manage to create an embryo on the outside of a mother, by using mice.
She published over 300 scientific papers in her lifetime.
In 1991, McLaren was appointed foreign secretary, and later vice-president, of The Royal Society.
She also became the first woman to ever hold office within the institution’s 330-year-old history.
How did her work pave the way to IVF?
Anne McLaren is considered one of the most significant reproductive biologists of the 20th century.
Her fundamental research on embryology has helped countless people realize their dreams of parenthood.
In the 1950s, McLaren began to work with mice to further understand the biology of mammalian development.
After successfully growing mouse embryos in vitro (in lab equipment), McLaren and fellow scientist John Biggers demonstrated the possibility to create healthy embryos outside of the mother’s womb.
Her watershed findings, which were published in 1958, paved the way for the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology.
It was 20 years later when IVF was first used successfully with humans.
What is a Google Doodle?
Google founders Larry and Sergey drew a stick figure behind the second ‘o’ of Google to show they were out of office at the Burning Man festival and with that, Google Doodles were born.
The company decided that they should decorate the logo to mark cultural moments and it soon became clear that users really enjoyed the change to the Google homepage.
Now, there is a full team of doodlers, illustrators, graphic designers, animators and classically trained artists who help create what you see on those days.