Christopher Polge

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Christopher Polge
Born (1926-08-16)August 16, 1926
Died August 17, 2006(2006-08-17) (aged 80)
Residence England
Nationality British
Fields Cryobiology
Institutions National Institute for Medical Research, Animal Research Station at Cambridge
Alma mater University of Reading
Doctoral students Ian Wilmut[1]
Known for cryopreservation
Notable awards Wolf Prize in Agriculture (1988)
Japan Prize (1992)

Ernest John Christopher Polge CBE, FRS (16 August 1926– 17 August 2006) was an English biologist, most noted for his work in cryopreservation.[2][3]

The son of a Buckinghamshire farmer, he was educated at Bootham School[4] in York, before going to the University of Reading where he studied Agriculture. He worked briefly as an agricultural economist before joining the Division of Experimental Biology at the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill, London, and later the Animal Research Station at Cambridge, where he worked under Sir John Hammond[5]

It was while a doctoral student that he solved the long-standing problem of how to preserve living cells and tissues at very low temperatures. In 1950, Polge produced the first chicks from eggs fertilised with frozen sperm,[6] the first vertebrates to be produced in this way. Two years later, Polge reported high pregnancy rates in cattle using sperm that had been frozen for periods in excess of a year, work which had far-reaching consequences for the future of artificial insemination and genetic improvement in livestock.

After the Animal Research Station closed in 1986, Polge co-founded Animal Biotechnology Cambridge Ltd., where he was also Scientific Director, to translate basic and applied research into commercial agricultural processes and products.[2] He was also a Fellow of Wolfson College from 1984 to 1993 (Emeritus Fellow after)

Polge was elected to the Royal Society in 1983, won the 1988 Wolf Foundation Prize in Agriculture, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1992. He was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences as a foreign associate in 1997.


  1. Polge, C.; Salamon, S.; Wilmut, I. (1970). "Fertilizing capacity of frozen boar semen following surgical insemination". The Veterinary record. 87 (15): 424–429. PMID 5485635.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  4. Bootham School Register. York, England: BOSA. 2011. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Christopher Polge Obituary - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 2011-07-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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