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Who Discovered Stem Cells?

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The discovery of stem cells is largely credited to Alexander A. Maximow. He was a Russian-American physician, biologist and scientist. He was born on January 22nd, 1874 in Russia. He studied in Germany and America and achieved an M.D. from the Imperial Military Academy in St. Petersburg. He was a histology and embryology professor from 1903 to 1922. He also served at the University of Chicago as professor of anatomy from 1922 to 1928.

Alexander A. MaximowAlexander A. Maximow developed the theory that all cells come from the same precursor cell, which he later calls as stem cells.

The unitarian theory of hematopoiesis

In his early life, he was mostly interested in histological and related fields. Most of his papers that were published from 1896 until 1902 were based on these subjects. Later, he became actively involved in research on blood and it’s connective tissues. He was the first person to show that all blood cells are developed from a common precursor cell. This is commonly known as the unitarian theory of hematopoiesis.

Laid the foundation for the understanding of stem cells

The modern idea of origin and differentiation of blood cells are primarily based on the unitarian theory. He also wrote a standard book for medical students called “The world’s most respected textbook in histology” which ran up to 12 editions. In 1908, Alexander Maximow attended the congress of hematologic society, which was held in Berlin.

First person to use the word stem cells

He proposed the existence of hematopoietic stem cells and described his unitarian theory of hematopoiesis during that event. He was the first person to use the term “stem cells” for scientific and medical purposes. Alexander Maximow died in 1928. Later, other physicians and medical researchers such as Joseph Altman, Gopal Das, Andre Gernez, McCulloch and Till discovered various characteristics of stem cells.

More on stem cells

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  2. Pros and cons of stem cells research