From Entomological Research to Culturing Tissues: Aron Moscona’s Investigative Pathway

Alessandra Passariello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aron Arthur Moscona (1921–2009) was an Israeli-American developmental biologist whose name is associated with research on cell interactions during embryonic development. His appearance on the international scene dates back to a paper published in 1952, while he was working, together with his wife Haya Sobel Moscona, at the Strangeways Research Laboratory of Cambridge. Together they demonstrated that cells from previously dissociated chick tissues undergo histiotypical and organotypical aggregation in vitro. From 1952 to 1997, Moscona focused his research on cell recognition mechanisms, ultimately demonstrating the role of transmembrane proteins in cellular adhesiveness, tissue segregation, and organ tridimensional assemblage during development. However, who was Aron Moscona before 1952 and what brought him to developmental biology? A Polish Jew who immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1933, Moscona belonged to the first generation of biologists formed in the newly established Zoology Department of the Hebrew University. With a particular focus on the Israeli context, the paper reconstructs the evolution of Moscona’s scientific thought by emphasizing the cultural and experimental context of his training and early research at the Hebrew University. The aim is to investigate how local scientific traditions influenced Moscona’s eventual research as well as enabled the relevant experimental innovation he contributed to the field of developmental biology and pathology. The paper can be read both as a scientific biography of Aron Moscona and as a preliminary contribution to the historiography of embryology in the Mandatory Palestine/Israeli context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-601
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of the History of Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Applied embryology
  • Aron Arthur Moscona
  • Experimental techniques in Tissue Culture
  • Haya Sobel
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • History of Embryology in Mandatory Palestine/Israel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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