Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Darwin was an English naturalist best known for developing the theory that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry. His book On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, outlined his evidence for his theory of evolution. While initially rejected, his explanation of natural selection as the basic mechanism for evolution achieved broad consensus by 1930s and was accepted as a unifying theory for the diversity of life. 1882-04-19T00:00:00+0000Galton publishes the term in his book 'Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development'. 1883-01-01T00:00:00+0000Mendel helped establish the laws of inheritance by studying traits between differerent pea plant generations. His work laid the basis for the study of classical genetics.1884-01-06T00:00:00+0000Schwann was a German physiologist who defined the cell as the basic unit of animal tissue structure. This laid the foundation for the study of cell biology.1884-01-11T00:00:00+0000Meyerhof was a physician and biochemist who was awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discovery of the 'fixed relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle.' In 1938 he was forced to flee Nazi Germany because of his Jewish background which entailed leaving the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medicine where he was a director from 1929. He was appointed a guest professor at the University of Pennsylvania. 1884-04-12T00:00:00+0000A Swedish chemist, Svedberg invented the ultracentrifuge which he used to research colloids and proteins.1884-08-30T00:00:00+0000Albrecht Kossel isolates and describes five organic compounds present in nucleic acids as being adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, and uracil. 1885-01-01T00:00:00+0000Louis Pasteur successfully tested his rabies vaccine on a nine year old boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog.1885-07-06T00:00:00+0000Kendall made several contributions to biochemistry and medicine. He is best known for isolating the steroid cortisone from the adrenal gland cortex, subsequently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1950. He also isolated thyroxine, the main hormone secreted by the thyroid gland which is vital to digestion, heart and muscle function and brain development and bone maintenance. 1886-03-08T00:00:00+0000Robinson's work on the nature and structure of organic compounds laid the foundation for the synthesis of pencillin and anti-malarial drugs. 1886-09-13T00:00:00+0000Goodpasture developed a method of culturing viruses in chicken embryos and fertilized chicken eggs. Before this viruses were grown in living tissues which could be contaminated by bacteria. Goodpasture's method laid the foundation for the development of vaccines for smallpox, yellow fever, typhus and chicken pox.1886-10-17T00:00:00+0000Rose was a biochemist and nutritionist. He isolated the amino acid threonine in 1932 and demonstrated in rats that a diet that lacked the amino acid stunted their growth. By 1949 he had established that ten amino acids were vital to human health: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Based on this work he was appointed to the US Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council which drew up dietary recommendations. 1887-04-04T00:00:00+0000Houssay was a physiologist. He is best known for having discovered how the pituitary gland regulates glucose or blood sugar levels. This he determined while studying the pituitary gland in dogs and toads during the early 1940s. In 1947 he was awarded the Nobel Prize on the back of this achievement. He was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Laureate in the sciences. The award was particularly poignant given that four years before he had been dismissed by the Argentinian military government from his position at the University of Buenos Aires Medical school where he had built up an internationally respected department in experimental physiology and medicine from 1919. He was later reinstated in 1955 following the fall of Juan Peron from power. 1887-04-10T00:00:00+0000Sumner was a chemist who showed that enzymes are proteins and can be crystalised.1887-11-19T00:00:00+00001888-01-01T00:00:00+0000Heidelberger was one of the founders of immunochemistrty, a branch of biochemistry that investigates the mammalian immune system at the molecular level. He first made his mark in 1923 when he found, with Oswald Avery, that that the immune system could target bacterial sugars. The two scientists made the discovery while investigating a capsular substance that envelops pneumococcus and other species of bacteria. Their work helped determine that antibodies were proteins. It also paved the way to improving the production of more effective serum therapies for the prevention of bacterial infectious diseases like pneumonia and meningitis. 1888-04-29T00:00:00+0000Gasser was a physiologist. He shared the 1944 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering different fibers in nerves that conduct electrochemical pulses at different rates. Discovered in the 1930s, this work laid the foundation for the theory that one type of fiber conducts pain signals and others conduct motor control signals. Gasser was the director of the Rockefeller Institute from 1936 to 1953. 1888-07-05T00:00:00+0000Waksman was a Ukrainian born American biochemist and microbiologist. He was the first to coin the term 'antibiotic' and was responsible for the development of many different antibiotics, including streptomycin, used to treat tuberculosis.1888-07-22T00:00:00+0000Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acid.1889-01-01T00:00:00+0000Bragg was a physicist. He shared the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his father, William Henry Bragg, for the development of X-ray crystallography. The technique proved important for deciphering the crystal structure of proteins and later DNA.1890-03-31T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
19 Apr 1882Charles Darwin diedDarwin Evolution
1883The term 'Eugenics' is coined by Francis Galton to denote the science of improving stock by judicious matingGalton Genetics
6 Jan 1884Gregor Johann Mendel diedMendel Genetics
11 Jan 1884Theodor Schwann diedSchwannUniversity of LiegeCell
12 Apr 1884Otto F Meyerhof was born in Hanover, GermanyMeyerhofKiel University, University of PennsylvaniaMetabolism
30 Aug 1884Theodor H E Svedberg was born in Flerang, SwedenSvedbergUppsala UniversityBiochemistry
1885 - 1901Nucleic acids structure determinedKosselInstitute of Physiology, University of Berlin, University of MarburgDNA
1885First rabies vaccine testedPasteurPasteur InstituteBacteriology, Vaccine
8 Mar 1886Edward Calvin Kendall was born in South Norwalk CT, USAKendallMayo ClinicBiochemistry, Endocrinology
13 Sep 1886Robert Robinson was born Rufford, near Chesterfield, United KingdomRobinsonOxford UniversityAntibacterial agents
17 Oct 1886Ernest Goodpasture was born Clarksville, TN, USAGoodpastureHarvard UniversityVirology, Vaccine
4 Apr 1887William C Rose was born Greenville, South Carolina, USARoseUniversity of IllinoisNutrition, Biochemistry
10 Apr 1887Bernardo Alberto Houssay was born in Buenos Aires, ArgentinaHoussayUniversity of Buenos AiresMetabolism
19 Nov 1887James B Sumner was born in Canton MA, USASumnerCornell UniversityBiochemistry
1888Term 'chromosome' coined by Edouard van Beneden, denoting 'coloured bodies'Beneden  
29 Apr 1888Michael Heidelberger was born in New York City, USAHeidelbergerRockefeller Institute, Columbia UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
5 Jul 1888Herbert Spencer Gasser was born in Platteville WI, USAGasserRockefeller InstituteNeuroscience
22 Jul 1888Selman A Waksman was born in Priluka (now Pryluky), Russian Empire (now Ukraine)WaksmanRutgers UniversityAntibacterial agents
1889Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acidAltmannLeipzig UniversityGenetics, DNA
31 Mar 1890William Lawrence Bragg was born in Adelaide, AustraliaBraggCavendish LaboratoryX ray crystallography

19 Apr 1882

Charles Darwin died

1883

The term 'Eugenics' is coined by Francis Galton to denote the science of improving stock by judicious mating

6 Jan 1884

Gregor Johann Mendel died

11 Jan 1884

Theodor Schwann died

12 Apr 1884

Otto F Meyerhof was born in Hanover, Germany

30 Aug 1884

Theodor H E Svedberg was born in Flerang, Sweden

1885 - 1901

Nucleic acids structure determined

1885

First rabies vaccine tested

8 Mar 1886

Edward Calvin Kendall was born in South Norwalk CT, USA

13 Sep 1886

Robert Robinson was born Rufford, near Chesterfield, United Kingdom

17 Oct 1886

Ernest Goodpasture was born Clarksville, TN, USA

4 Apr 1887

William C Rose was born Greenville, South Carolina, USA

10 Apr 1887

Bernardo Alberto Houssay was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina

19 Nov 1887

James B Sumner was born in Canton MA, USA

1888

Term 'chromosome' coined by Edouard van Beneden, denoting 'coloured bodies'

29 Apr 1888

Michael Heidelberger was born in New York City, USA

5 Jul 1888

Herbert Spencer Gasser was born in Platteville WI, USA

22 Jul 1888

Selman A Waksman was born in Priluka (now Pryluky), Russian Empire (now Ukraine)

1889

Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acid

31 Mar 1890

William Lawrence Bragg was born in Adelaide, Australia