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MBL Corporation Member John Saunders Elected to National Academy of Science
Developmental Biologist’s Career Spans More Than Sixty Years

WOODS HOLE, MA—Dr. John W. Saunders, Jr., MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Corporation member and Falmouth resident has been elected to The National Academy of Sciences. The achievement, considered one of the highest honors in American science and engineering, was announced on April 25, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Dr. Saunders is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences at the State University of New York (SUNY), Albany and a long-time faculty member of the MBL’s summer Embryology course. Dr. Saunders is known as an outstanding contributor to the field of developmental biology and his research remains central to the understanding of vertebrate limb development. He is also a highly regarded and inspirational teacher, having taught in a university setting for more than 40 years and in the MBL’s Embryology course from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1995-2003.

Dr. Saunders received a B.S. in 1940 and a M.S. in 1941 from the University of Oklahoma, Norman. In 1948 he received a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University. Following a post-doctoral appointment at The University of Chicago, Dr. Saunders began his teaching career at Marquette University in 1949 starting as an Assistant Professor of Zoology and then moving to Associate Professor, Professor, and eventually Chairman of the Biology Department. He left Marquette in 1965 to become a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1967 he was appointed Leading Professor of Biological Sciences at SUNY Albany. A position he held until 1985 when he was named Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Saunders has been a member of the Society for Developmental Biology since 1966 and has been a member of the executive committee and the President in 1968. Dr. Saunders has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including Developmental Biology, Journal of Morphology, Journal of Experimental Zoology, and Mechanisms of Ageing and Development as well as review boards for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and The American Cancer Society.

He lives in Falmouth with Lilyan, his wife of more 60 years.


The MBL is an international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu.