One of the groups which Linda and Paul McCartney and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested and attacked, the March of Dimes, celebrated its 60th
anniversary in April. Started in 1938 as the National Foundation for Infantile
Paralysis, the March of Dimes led the effort to find a cure for polio.
The group’s efforts culminated with Dr. Jonas Salk’s discovery of a vaccine
for the crippling disease in 1955. With the conquering of polio in the
United States, the March of Dimes turned its focus to the prevention of
As part of that effort, the March
of Dimes sponsors animal research into birth defects and regularly recognizes
outstanding researchers who contribute to humanity’s understanding of
their cause and prevention.
Every year, for example, the March
of Dimes gives a $100,000 Developmental Biology prize to scientists
who advance understanding of embryo development. In 1997 Walter J. Gehring,
Ph.D., professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland,
and David S. Hogness, Ph.D., Munzer Professor of Developmental Biology
and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine, California,
won the prize for their discovery of homeobox genes. Homeobox genes are
the so-called “master architect genes” that regulate and control
Hogness discovered the genes in
1979 and Gehring later isolated the DNA segments of the genes, which exist
in almost identical forms throughout the animal kingdom.
As Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president
of the March of Dimes puts it, “The basic research by Dr. Gehring
and Dr. Hogness provides insight into how living creatures develop and
how development can sometimes go awry. It gives us hope that some day
we may be able to prevent or treat many disabling and fatal disorders.”
Numerous scientists around the
world are now conducting experiments on animals to see how such genes
control specific parts of development, and recently Gehring reported the
isolation of what is believed to be the gene which controls development
of the eye. This is the sort of important knowledge that animal rights
activists would have us forego.
Sue Ann Wood
“March of Dimes celebrates 60th anniversary” St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Scripps Howard
April 22, 1998
“March of Dimes Prize in developmental biology
awarded to two scientists who revealed mystery of how living things are built” March of Dimes, Press Release, April 1998.
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