Vie latente, cryoconservation et eugénisme : histoire et épistémologie de la cryobiologie à la lumière des écrits d'Alan Sterling Parkes (1900-1990)

Authors: Guyard, Marianne
Advisor: Méthot, Pierre-Olivier
Abstract: With a panoply of applications ranging from therapeutics to everyday processes in the biomedical and agricultural industry, cryobiology-derived techniques have become essential to many present-day human activities. In this master’s thesis, I explore the history and epistemology of cryobiology through the lens of English biologist Alan Sterling Parkes (1900-1990). I will start by looking at the very first observations made by naturalists in the XVIIth century on the effects of low temperatures on living organisms and how these have been essential to the field of cryobiology. Those observations, as we will see, are also linked to other major episodes in the history of biology. From there, I will trace the early days of cryobiology, with a particular focus on a major scientific breakthrough: the discovery of protective properties of glycerol by Parkes and his colleagues at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) at the end of World War II. This new cryoprotective agent enabled the preservation of living tissues and cells, thus revolutionizing the field of biology at low temperatures as well cementing cryobiology as a brand-new research field of its own. Finally, I will analyze the socio-historical context of cryobiology’s first practical applications, most notably in the field of reproductive medicine. This work aims at reconstructing the history of cryobiology and highlights the contribution of Parkes and his NIMR colleagues while also showing the role these played into structuring the emerging field.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 1 June 2021
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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