Robert W. Briggs was an undergraduate at Boston University (BS, 1934) and a graduate of Harvard (PhD, 1938). His first position was at McGill University, followed by the Institute for Cancer Research. He came to Indiana University in 1956, was an active member of a number of scientific societies, and was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. During the 1950s, Professor Briggs and his collaborator, Thomas King, pioneered and perfected the procedures for nuclear transplantation to answer a fundamental question in embryology. He was a dedicated and demanding teacher at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
In 1973 Briggs was awarded the prestigious Charles-Leopold Mayer Prize of the Academy of Sciences, Institute of France. He died on March 4, 1983 after 27 years at Indiana University, and will best be remembered by the international scientific community as one of a handful of "innovators" who left a permanent imprint on a broad range of biology.