Jose Campos-Ortega stands out as one of the pioneers of developmental-genetic studies of early neurogenesis. He also liked to reflect about the history of science: how one discovery leads to the next, and what role individuals play in the progress of science. He had indeed started to work on a book describing the history of developmental genetics during the last year of his life. His goal in this book was to “explain how developmental genetics originated, how it transformed developmental biology and, while doing so, how it contributed to achieve the biological synthesis.” In the following, I would like to reflect on the origin and growth of the field Campos-Ortega contributed so much. In doing so, it is of particular interest to consider his scientific roots, and the manner in which he entered the stage of developmental genetics. I believe that Campos-Ortega's unusual scientific background influenced in an important manner the way in which he shaped the study of early neurogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 235:2003–2008, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.