Metchnikoff and the Origins of Immunology: From Metaphor to Theory / Edition 1

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This fascinating intellectual history is the first critical study of the work of Elie Metchnikoff, the founding father of modern immunology. Metchnikoff authored and championed the theory that phagocytic cells actively defend the host body against pathogens and diseased cells. His program developed from comparative embryological studies that sought to establish genealogical relations between species at the dawn of the Darwinian revolution. In this scientific biography, Tauber and Chernyak explore ore Metchnikoff's development as an embryologist, showing how it prepared him to propose his theory of host-pathogen interaction. They discuss the profound impact of Darwin's theory of evolution on Metchnikoff's progress, and the influence of 19th century debates on vitalism, teleology, and mechanism. As a case study of scientific discovery, this work offers lucid insight into the process of creative science and its dependence on cultural and philosophic sources. Immunologists and historians of science and medicine will find it an absorbing and accessible account of a remarkable individual.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In their important, original, and, indeed, definitive contribution to the history of science and philosophy, the authors. . .meticulously trace the evolution of these radical and generally misunderstood ideas. . . .Careful and thorough scholarship." —ASM News

"Important. . . .This book comes at an opportune time because it shows us that to understand the origins of immunology, we must look into the profound intellectual and social changes that were occurring in the 19th century. . . .One of the most lasting values of this scholarly book is that it will sharply focus future scholarship in immunologic history on its 19th-century origins." —New England Journal of Medicine

"A scholarly and detailed study." —Nature

"This critical scientific biography is fascinating and enjoyable. . . .So absorbing that I am tempted to read some of the other books in the series. This eloquent work would delight anyone interested in medical history, including scientists, physicians, and students of immunology, infectious diseases, and biology in general." —JAMA

"This important reference will be a welcome addition to the library of every medical school." —Annals of Internal Medicine

"Well written and frequently fascinating. . . .A welcome addition to any scientific library." —Choice

"Tauber and Chernyak have written an important book. . . .this book offers a rich reward." —The Times Higher Education Supplement

"The book Metchnikoff and the Origins of Immunology provides an excellent sample of the fruitful approach to the history of science. It can serve both as a comprehensive biography of the great scientist and an interesting case study of one of the brightest discoveries in biology. It also contributes greatly to our understanding of the history of biology na d the deep historical roots of modern immunology; this feature distinguishes the book from standard biographical literature and makes it especially useful for everybody interested in immunology and related fields." —Molecular Immunology

"There is a great deal of rich detail here, as well as a number of provocative, interpretive claims. Both of these features give the book a thoroughly deserved place in this excellent series of monographs." —JRC

"A scholarly and richly documented study." —Elisha Atkins, Journal of the History of Medicine

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Metchnikoff's Early Embryology
3. Metchnikoff's Embryological Studies after 1872
4. The Problem of Evolution in Metchnikoff's Works
5. Metchnikoff's Emerging Concept of Inflammation
6. The Phagocytosis Theory and Its Reception
7. The Phagocyte Eclipsed
8. Epilogue: From Metaphor to Theory

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