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About the Author

William J. Larsen, PhD 1942-2000

Human Embryology The William J. Larsen Distinguished Lecture Series
An annual lecture series was created for the Department of Cancer & Cell Biology at the University of Cincinnati to honor Dr. Larsen's research which was at the forefront of cell developmental and reproductive biology. This series recognizes forward-thinking research scientists in the field of developmental biology and asks that they share their research and findings with students and faculty of the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.

William J. Larsen - The Person
Bill Larsen's stellar scientific career would be enough for most people, but Bill pursued his numerous and varied interests with such extraordinary passion, energy, and skill that he seemed to have more hours in a day than the ordinary person. He was fascinated with the American Southwest and studied and collected traditional arts and crafts of the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo peoples. He was a woodworker who built three harpsichords and a fortepiano for his wife, and with his two children, over 100 pieces of gallery-quality furniture. He wrote a mystery novel (unpublished) centering on murder and intrigue within the scientific community. In addition, he loved to regale his friends, colleagues, and students with jokes and stories, and to share his love for gourmet cooking. "It is this spirit of generosity, enthusiasm, and innovation that inspires the Larsen lecture series, offered in honor of a beloved and esteemed colleague who is sincerely missed."

William J. Larsen - The Scientist and Professor
William J. Larsen was devoted to both research and teaching. He was a gifted scientist, consistently producing research at the forefront of his field. Early in his career he published a landmark paper establishing mitochondrial fission as the mechanism of mitochondrial biogenesis, and later demonstrated the endocytosis of gap junctions. His authoritative review in Tissue and Cell "Structural Diversity of Gap Junctions (1988)" became a Citation Classic.

His research career addressed many fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology. In addition to establishing the fact that mitochondria divide, he demonstrated gap junction endocytosis and discovered the role of inter-α-inhibitor in cells. Research areas included adrenal cortical tumor cells, ovarian carcinomas, preterm labor, cumulus expansion, oocyte maturation, ovulation, folliculogenesis, and in vitro fertilization-culminating in a multitude of papers, invited reviews, book chapters, and three textbooks: Human Embryology, Essentials of Human Embryology, and Anatomy – Development, Function, Clinical Correlations. He took great pride in graduate students and postdoctoral fellows trained in his laboratory.

Dr. Larsen's teaching career spanned 25 years. In addition to lecturing on human embryology and gross anatomy for medical students, he was co-director of a developmental biology course for genetic counseling and developmental biology graduate students - receiving four teaching awards during his time at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine. He proudly served on the NBME Developmental Biology & Human Genetics Task Force and the NBME Anatomy Test Committee that develops questions for the medical boards.

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