Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 231 - 236 (2010)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082837kt
© UPV/EHU Press

Contemporary comparative placenta research - an interview with Allen Enders

Kent L. Thornburg*,1 and Joan S. Hunt2

1Heart Research Center, Portland, Oregon, USA and 2Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, USA

ABSTRACT This Special Issue of The International Journal of Developmental Biology is dedicated to Allen C. Enders. His accomplishments are being honored because of his outstanding scientific contributions to our understanding of the development and mature structure of the mammalian placenta. He has consistently focused his research efforts on cutting edge questions related to the interaction of maternal and fetal tissues. While he has officially retired, he continues to study implantation and comparative placentology at the ultrastructural level. Enders has served as a link between the early placentologists who struggled to resolve the thinnest of layers in the placenta using light microscopy and modern day placentologists who now take advantage of confocal microscopy and electron microscopy to elucidate pathways for nutritive molecules as they pass from maternal to fetal compartments. Enders’ ground breaking electron micrographs will stand the test of time in revealing the relationships between embryonic tissue and maternal structures as they are variously modified in different species. The symbiotic interactions of genetically distinct tissues that form the placenta are required to nourish the fetus and perpetuate the species. This mysterious process makes mammalian reproduction the most exciting field of research in all of biology. The story of Allen Enders’ success will be an inspiration to all up and coming placentologists who are destined to discover the exciting world of placental biology.

Keywords:

placenta, Allen Enders, comparative placentation, trophoblast, yolk sac

*Corresponding author e-mail: thornbur@ohsu.edu