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Claude, Albert (24 August 1899–22 May 1983), cell biologist, was born in Longlier, Belgium, the son of Florentin Joseph Claude, a baker, and Marie-Glaudicine Watriquant. Claude’s mother died after a long battle with cancer when he was seven. He attended the village school for a few years, but before World War I his family moved to the German-speaking village of Athus. At age twelve Claude went to work in a steel mill, first as an apprentice and then as a draftsman. When World War I broke out, he volunteered for the British Intelligence Service; he was cited for bravery in 1918, receiving the British War Medal, the Interallied Medal, and a personal citation from Winston Churchill. These activities, however, did not prevent him from pursuing a course of self-education. All his life he had desired to study medicine, but his lack of a high school degree prevented him from entering medical school. In 1921 Claude reluctantly took and passed the entrance examination to the School of Mining Engineering in Liège. He was accepted but never attended, because in 1922 the government removed the high school diploma requirement, and he was allowed to enter the medical school at the University of Liège. He received his M.D. in 1928, writing a thesis on sarcoma in mice....

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Friend, Charlotte (11 March 1921–07 January 1987), immunologist and cell biologist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants Morris Friend, a businessman, and Cecelia Wolpin, a pharmacist. Friend’s father died when she was three years old, and her mother was left with four young children to raise during the depression. Friend took advantage of the many free cultural and educational advantages that New York offered and developed a wide-ranging, lifelong interest in art, music, and science. Following graduation from Hunter College of the City of New York in 1944, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an officer in hematology laboratories in California and Florida. When World War II ended, she enrolled as a graduate student at Yale University with the financial assistance of the G.I. Bill. She received her Ph.D. in bacteriology in 1950....

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Mirsky, Alfred Ezra (17 October 1900–19 June 1974), biochemist and cellular biologist, was born in New York City, the son of Michael David Mirsky, a manufacturer of nurses uniforms, and Frieda Ittelson. After his 1918 graduation from the Ethical Culture School in New York, Mirsky enrolled at Harvard College. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1922 and began graduate study at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1924 a fellowship to study biochemistry at Cambridge University in England resulted in his doctoral dissertation, “The Hemoglobin Molecule,” and a Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1926. In the same year he married Reba Paeff, a Radcliffe College graduate and a harpsichordist who performed with early music groups. She was also an award-winning author of children’s books. The couple had two children....

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Stevens, Nettie Maria (07 July 1861–04 May 1912), cytologist, was born in Cavendish, Vermont, the daughter of Ephraim Stevens, a carpenter, and Julia Adams. Stevens’s mother died in 1863, and her father remarried two years later. She was educated in the public schools of Westford, Massachusetts, and graduated from the Westfield, Massachusetts, Normal School in 1883. To earn money to continue her education, Stevens taught Latin, English, mathematics, physiology, and zoology at a high school in Lebanon, New Hampshire; worked as a librarian at the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Free Public Library; and taught at the Howe School, Billerica, Massachusetts....

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Wilson, Edmund Beecher (19 October 1856–03 March 1939), cytologist, embryologist, and geneticist, was born in Geneva, Illinois, the son of Isaac G. Wilson, a lawyer and judge, and Caroline Clarke. In 1859 Isaac Wilson was appointed circuit judge in Chicago, and he and Caroline left their three-year-old child, “Eddy,” with his maternal aunt, Mrs. Charles Patten, in Geneva. He viewed his childless aunt and her husband as a second set of parents....