Historical Records of Australian Science Historical Records of Australian Science Society
The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific

Colin Russell Austin 1914–2004

Roger V. Short

Historical Records of Australian Science 25(2) 264 - 272
Published: 11 November 2014


Colin Russell Austin, English by birth, initially graduated in Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney in 1936. The Second World War limited his career options, but he was fortunate to be employed by the CSIR Division of Animal Health in Sydney. In 1954 he was invited to join the staff of the Medical Research Council's laboratory in Mill Hill, London to study fertilization and early embryonic development in rats and rabbits. As a result, in 1962 he was asked to teach Fertilization and Gamete Physiology at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and subsequently became Professor of Embryology in the Medical School at Tulane University, New Orleans. This alerted the University of Cambridge to his potential and they created a special Charles Darwin Chair for him in 1967. This enabled him to support the work of his young student Robert Edwards on human in vitro fertilization and embryonic development that culminated in the award of the Nobel Prize to Edwards and Patrick Steptoe in 2010. Austin also devoted a great deal of his time to editing the 13-volume Cambridge University Press series of textbooks, Reproduction in Mammals, completing the series from his retirement home in Buderim, Queensland in 1986.


© Australian Academy of Science 2014

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