Bertold Wiesner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bertold Paul Wiesner
Born1901
Austria
Died1972 (aged 70–71)
United Kingdom
OccupationBiologist
Spouse(s)Mary Barton

Bertold Paul Wiesner (1901–1972) was an Austrian Jewish physiologist noted firstly for coining the term 'Psi' to denote parapsychological phenomena;[1][2][3][4][5] secondly for his contribution to research into human fertility and the diagnosis of pregnancy;[6][7] and thirdly for being biological father to an estimated 600 offspring by anonymously donating sperm used by his wife the obstetrician Mary Barton to perform artificial insemination on women at a private clinic on Harley Street,[8][9][10] London, England.

First marriage and early work in Austria[edit]

Wiesner was briefly married to the Austrian author, playwright, and scriptwriter Anna Gmeyner. They had one daughter: the author Eva Ibbotson, born in 1925.[11][12] The family moved to Scotland in 1926 when Wiesner accepted a post at the University of Edinburgh. Wiesner and Gmeyner separated in 1928. He became a naturalized citizen in 1934.[13][14]

During 1926 while Wiesner was still in Austria, he began investigating the role of hormones in regulating fertility and their impact on fetal development. Wiesner also researched the possibility of preventing and terminating pregnancy by physiological means without mechanical intervention based on oral ingestion of manufactured substances containing hormones. He presented his first paper at the First International Congress for Sex Research organized by the psychiatrist Albert Moll in Berlin.[15][16][17]

Two years later in 1927 the German gynecologists Bernhard Zondek and Selmar Ascheim discovered that the urine of a pregnant woman contained a substance later identified as the gonadotropic hormone 'human chorionic gonadotropin' that caused an estrous reaction when injected into rats. This provided the basis for the Aschheim-Zondek test for pregnancy.[18]

Early work in Scotland[edit]

The following year in 1928, Wiesner was appointed to the position of head of Sex Physiology by animal geneticist Francis Crew, Professor of Animal Genetics at the newly established Institute of Animal Genetics (IAG) established within the University of Edinburgh.

A number of notable scientists conducted research at the IAG, including physiologist John Scott Haldane, zoologist Lancelot Hogben and evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley.[19][20][21][22] It was there that Wiesner built upon the work of Zondek and Aschheim by examining the production and role of hormones during fertilization and pregnancy.[23][24] Zondek and Aschheim had thought that the hormone chorionic gonadotrophin was produced by the pituitary gland. But the research conducted at the IAG proved that it is secreted by the placenta.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

In 1929, Wiesner visited Montreal, where he discussed with some scientists the possibility of using medicine derived from female hormones to delay menopause. Later, the scientists helped form the company Ayerst, McKenna and Harrison, Ltd (later, Wyeth) who marketed Premarin, a controversial hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug based on pregnant mare's urine.

The Pregnancy Diagnosis Station[edit]

The work of Wiesner and Crew led to the establishment of the Pregnancy Diagnosis Station at Edinburgh, which by 1939 was conducting ten thousand pregnancy tests per year, serving physicians across the United Kingdom.[31][32][33] In addition, Wiesner discovered that analysis of the urine provided by pregnant women could indicate the likelihood of miscarriage and abnormal fetal development. [34][35]

Artificial insemination research[edit]

While at the Institute of Animal Genetics, Wiesner resumed his earlier research into the prevention of pregnancy which contributed to the formulation of a reliable oral contraceptive for women.[36][37][38] In addition, Wiesner collaborated with Kenneth Walker, a urological surgeon, at the Royal Northern Hospital where they had success in artificially inseminating women with sperm from anonymous donors in cases where the patient's husband was infertile or impotent.[39]

While working as an obstetrician at the Royal Free Hospital in London during the early 1940s, Mary Barton had also had similar success and founded the first private clinic offering artificial insemination in the United Kingdom. In 1945, Barton collaborated with Wiesner and Walker on a paper for the British Medical Journal, describing their technique of human artificial insemination.[40] The paper precipitated highly publicized condemnation from the Pope who called it a sin, and the Archbishop of Canterbury who called for the British parliament to make human artificial insemination illegal. Although it was not criminalized it was not legalized either and therefore the status of artificial insemination was ambiguous. Consequently, the activities of Barton and Wiesner at the fertility clinic were conducted in secrecy and all inseminated women were instructed to tell nobody about it.[41][42]

Collaboration and marriage to Mary Barton[edit]

Subsequently, Barton and Wiesner jointly managed Barton's practice in London, during which time they married and had a son Jonathan Wiesner in 1945. (They also raised a daughter, Ruth.) From the beginning of Barton's practice until Wiesner's retirement in the mid-late 1960s, Mary Barton successfully inseminated an estimated 1500 women, the majority with sperm provided from Wiesner, some 1-200 from neuroscientist Derek Richter as well as an unknown number from as yet unidentified donors. It is estimated that Wiesner is the biological father of perhaps 600 people or even more.[43][44][45][46]

Parapsychological research[edit]

In addition to his scientific research into fertility and pregnancy, Wiesner was intrigued by parapsychological phenomena, and in 1941, he met the psychologist and parapsychologist Robert Thouless who was President of the Society for Psychical Research in London from 1942 until 1944.[47] Together, Wiesner and Thouless collaborated on constructing a hypothetical model to explain parapsychological phenomena. During this time, Wiesner coined the term 'Psi' to denote extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Their model, which was not intended to prove or disprove the existence of such phenomena, was first introduced in 1946, as part of a jointly authored paper where Wiesner and Robert Thouless use the term 'Psi' to indicate parapsychological phenomena.[48][49][50][51][52]

Offspring[edit]

In 2007, Wiesner's natural son Jonathan Wiesner provided saliva and blood from which his DNA was isolated and held on record. Since then, twenty people have been able to verify that Bertold Paul Wiesner is their biological father through a DNA match to Jonathan Wiesner and to each other. Wiesner's biological offspring, conceived by artificial insemination performed by Mary Barton and confirmed by DNA testing, include author and psychotherapist Paul Newham, Barrister David Gollancz, and film maker Barry Stevens, whose documentary films were instrumental in facilitating and publicizing the process by which Wiesner's offspring can confirm their paternity.[53][54][55][56][57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dybvig, M., 'On the Philosophy of Psi'. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy Volume 30. Issue 3 (1987) pp253-275.
  2. ^ Rhine, J. B., 'Psi Phenomena and Psychiatry'. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 43 (11) (1950) pp804–814.
  3. ^ Thouless, R. H. and Wiesner, B. P., 'The Psi Processes in Normal and Paranormal Psychology'. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 48 (1948) pp177-196.
  4. ^ Thouless, R. H. and Wiesner, B. P., 'On the Nature of Psi Phenomena'. Journal of Parapsychology Vol 1. (1946) pp107-119.
  5. ^ Thouless, R. H., "Experiments on Paranormal Guessing". British Journal of Psychology 33 (1942) pp15-27.
  6. ^ Sanders, M. A., Wiesner, B. P. and Yudkin, J. 'Control of Fertility by 6-Azauridine'
  7. ^ McLaren, A., Reproduction by Design: Sex, Robots, Trees, and Test-Tube Babies in Interwar Britain. Chicago. University of Chicago Press 2012.
  8. ^ Kensche, C., '600 Children Looking for a Father'. Die Welt 10 April 2012.
  9. ^ Stevens, B., (Writer & Director) 'Bio-Dad' Documentary. Barna-Alper Productions. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) 2009.
  10. ^ Fricker, M., 'Grand Daddy: Sperm Donor Scientist May Have Fathered 1000 Babies at Clinic He Ran'. London. Daily Mirror. 8 April 2012.
  11. ^ The Gazette. London. The National Archives of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO).
  12. ^ Pauli, M., 'Children's Author Eva Ibbotson Dies Aged 85'. London. The Guardian 22 October 2010.
  13. ^ The Gazette. London. The National Archives of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO).
  14. ^ Eccleshare, J., 'Eva Ibbotson Obituary'. London. The Guardian. 24 October 2010.
  15. ^ Calder, R., 'The Birth of the Future'. London. A. Barker Publishers Ltd 1934
  16. ^ McLaren, A., Reproduction by Design: Sex, Robots, Trees, and Test-Tube Babies in Interwar Britain. University of Chicago Press. 2012
  17. ^ Borell, M., 'Biologists and the Promotion of Birth Control Research 1918 - 1938'. Journal of the History of Biology 20 No.1 (1987) pp51-87.
  18. ^ O'Dowd, M J. and Philipp, E. E., The History of Obstetrics and Gynecology. New York. Informa Healthcare 2000.
  19. ^ Dronamraju, K. R., If I am to be Remembered: The Life and Work of Julian Huxley with Selected Correspondence. World Scientific 1993.
  20. ^ Burnett, J. H., The University Portraits, Vol ii. Edinburgh. Eyre and Spottiswoode 1986
  21. ^ University of Edinburgh, 'The University of Edinburgh Journal' Vol. 26. Edinburgh. Scottish Academic Press Ltd (1973-1974).
  22. ^ Hogben, L., 'Francis Albert Eley Crew'. Biographical Memoirs of the Royal Society Vol. 20. London. Royal Society (1974).
  23. ^ Cowie, A. T., Pregnancy Diagnosis Tests: A Review. Edinburgh. Edinburgh Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau (1948).
  24. ^ Hobson, M. 'Pregnancy Diagnosis'. Journal of Reproductive Fertility 12 (1926) pp33-35.
  25. ^ Stone, B., 'Clinical Value of the Aschheim-Zondek Test for Pregnancy'. Southern Medical Journal 23 (1930) pp747–8.
  26. ^ Ettinger, G. H., Smith, G. L. M. and McHenry, E. W., 'The Diagnosis of Pregnancy with the Aschheim-Zondek Test'. Canadian Medical Association Journal 24 (1931) pp491–2.
  27. ^ Leavitt, S., 'A Private Little Revolution: The Home Pregnancy Test in American Culture'. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80 (2006) pp317–45.
  28. ^ Rudloff, U., and Ludwig, H., 'Jewish Gynecologists in Germany in the First Half of the Twentieth Century'. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics 272 (2005) pp245–60.
  29. ^ David, S., Heller, C., Orians, G., Purves, W., and Hillis, D., Life: The Science of Biology. 8th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman (2006): pp911–2.
  30. ^ Evans, H., and Simpson, M., 'Aschheim-Zondek Test for Pregnancy - Its Present Status'. California and Western Medicine 32 (1930) p145.
  31. ^ Hutt, F. B., 'Genetics of the University of Edinburgh: The Work of the Department of Animal Genetics'. Journal of Animal Science (1931) p104.
  32. ^ Wiesner, B. P., 'Pregnancy Diagnosis Station: Report on Third Year's Working'. British Medical Journal 2 (1932) p759.
  33. ^ Crew, F. A. E., 'The Biological Pregnancy Diagnosis Tests'. British Medical Journal 1 (1939) pp766-770.
  34. ^ Wiesner, B. P., 'The Hormones and their Control of the Reproductive System'. Eugenics Review 22 (1930) pp19-26.
  35. ^ Borell, M., 'Organo Therapy and the Emergence of Reproductive Endocrinology'. Journal of the History of Biology 18 (1985) pp1-30.
  36. ^ Speirs, J., 'Secretly Connected: Anonymous Semen Donation, Genetics and Meaning of Kinship'. Doctoral Thesis. University of Edinburgh 2007.
  37. ^ McLaren, A., Reproduction by Design: Sex, Robots, Trees, and Test-Tube Babies in Interwar Britain. University of Chicago Press 2012.
  38. ^ Soloway, R. A., 'The Perfect Contraceptive: Eugenics and Birth Control Research in Britain and America in the Interwar Years'. Journal of Contemporary History 30 (1995) pp637-43.
  39. ^ Speirs, J., 'Secretly Connected: Anonymous Semen Donation, Genetics and Meaning of Kinship'. Doctoral Thesis. University of Edinburgh 2007.
  40. ^ Barton, M., Walker, K. and Wiesner, B. 'Artificial Insemination. British Medical Journal. January 1945. Vol. 1. pp40-43.
  41. ^ Stevens, B., (Writer & Director) 'Bio-Dad' Documentary. Barna-Alper Productions. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) 2009.
  42. ^ Fine, K., Donor Conception for Life: Psychoanalytic Reflections on New Ways of Conceiving Families. London. Karnac Books 2015.
  43. ^ Findlay, S.,'British Man Fathered 600 Children at Own Fertility Clinic'. The Star. Toronto. 9 Apr 2012.
  44. ^ Kelly, T., 'British Scientist Fathered 600 children' by Donating Sperm at his Own Fertility Clinic'. London. The Mail. 8 April 2012.
  45. ^ Fricker, M., 'Grand Daddy: Sperm Donor Scientist May Have Fathered 1000 Babies at Clinic He Ran'. London. Daily Mirror. 8 April 2012.
  46. ^ Martin Fricker, "Grand daddy: Sperm donor scientist may have fathered 1,000 babies at clinic he ran", Mirror, 8 April 2012.
  47. ^ Society for Psychical Research, 'List of Past Presidents'. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  48. ^ Dybvig, M., 'On the Philosophy of Psi'. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy Volume 30. Issue 3 (1987) pp253-275.
  49. ^ Rhine, J. B., 'Psi Phenomena and Psychiatry'. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 43 (11) (1950) pp804–814.
  50. ^ Thouless, R. H. and Wiesner, B. P., 'The Psi Processes in Normal and Paranormal Psychology'. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 48 (1948) pp177-196.
  51. ^ Thouless, R. H. and Wiesner, B. P., 'On the Nature of Psi Phenomena'. Journal of Parapsychology Vol 1. (1946) pp107-119.
  52. ^ Thouless, R. H., "Experiments on Paranormal Guessing". British Journal of Psychology 33 (1942) pp15-27.
  53. ^ Documentary film "Offspring" https://vimeo.com/128603400
  54. ^ Findlay, S.,'British Man Fathered 600 Children at Own Fertility Clinic'. The Star. Toronto. 9 Apr 2012.
  55. ^ Kelly, T., 'British Scientist Fathered 600 children' by Donating Sperm at his Own Fertility Clinic'. London. The Mail. 8 April 2012.
  56. ^ Fricker, M., 'Grand Daddy: Sperm Donor Scientist May Have Fathered 1000 Babies at Clinic He Ran'. London. Daily Mirror. 8 April 2012.
  57. ^ Newham, P. 'Talking Cure - Singing Cure: The Way Beyond Words', Paper read at Confer. Conference to examine The Power of Non-verbal Communication in the Talking Cure. London. 17 May 2013