Wilson, Edmund Beecher

Wilson, Edmund Beecher,

1856–1939, American zoologist, b. Geneva, Ill., grad. Yale (Ph.B., 1878), Johns Hopkins (Ph.D., 1881). He taught at Bryn Mawr (1885–91) and at Columbia (1891–1928), where he initiated research in genetics and attracted many followers. His principal work was on the function of the cell in heredity and on the role of the chromosomes (including the significance of the sex chromosome). He also studied embryology and experimental morphology. His works include The Cell in Development and Heredity (1896, 3d ed. 1925) and The Physical Basis of Life (1923).

Wilson, Edmund Beecher


Born Oct. 19, 1856, in Geneva, 111.; died Mar. 3, 1939, in New York. American cytologist. Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (president, 1913); member of the New York Academy of Science (president, 1904).

Wilson graduated from Yale University in 1878. He later spent several years in Europe, studying at Cambridge University and the University of Leipzig in 1881 and 1882. In 1891 he joined the faculty of Columbia University in New York, where he became a professor in 1894. Wilson’s principal works were on cytology and cytogenetics; his other research dealt with embryology, experimental morphology, and zoology. Wilson made a significant contribution to the knowledge of the structure and physiology of the cell, and he clarified and developed the chromosome theory of sex determination.

Wilson was a fellow of the Royal Society (1921) and a member of the Académie des Sciences, many other foreign academies of science, and various American and foreign scientific societies.


General Biology, part 1. New York, 1886. (With W. T. Sedgwick.)
An Atlas of the Fertilization and Karyokinesis of the Ovum. New York-London, 1895.
The Physical Basis of Life. New Haven-London, 1923.
In Russian-translation:
Kletka i ee rol’ v razvitii i nasledstvennosti, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936–40.


Schrader, F. “Edmund Beecher Wilson—Scientist.” Columbia University Quarterly, 1939, vol. 31, no. 3.
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