Despite the controversial nature of studies of reproductive phenomena, a major center of reproductive biology emerged and coalesced in the Department of Zoology at the University of Chicago circa 1892–1940. Led by Frank R. Lillie, several small groups of researchers pioneered the study of sex determination and sex hormones, pursuing these via a Chicago approach to framing biological practice at both cellular and organismic levels. They worked in an interdisciplinary manner, however much in tandem, and drew strongly on local resourcesfrom the stockyards to local philanthropy. Most remarkably, Lillie redirected the mission of the major National Research Council (NRC) Committee for Research Problems of Sex to address the biology of sex and then garnered about a fifth of its funds for Chicago. He thus guided Chicago biology into the fully modern era of external support for on-campus research and elaborate national scientific networks via promising biological solutions to social problems.

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