Viktor Hamburger's Study of Central-Peripheral Relations in the Development of Nervous System
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An important question throughout the history of embryology is whether the formation of a biological structure is predetermined or shaped by its environment. If both intrinsic and environmental controls occur, how exactly do the two processes coordinate in crafting specific forms and functions? When Viktor Hamburger started his PhD study in embryology in the 1920s, few neuroembryologists were investigating how the central neurons innervate peripheral organs. As Hamburger began his research, he had no clue that central-peripheral relations in the development of the central nervous system (CNS) would become one of his major interests for the next seventy-five years. In fact, this research trajectory would lead him to discover programmed cell death as a pivotal mechanism mediating central-peripheral relations, as well as to Nobel-Prize-winning work on nerve growth factors (NGF).