Rockefeller University: Timeline of key events

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Loeb was a physiologist and biologist who demonstrated the possibility of reproduction without male fertilisation, parthenogenesis, in sea urchin eggs. He found it was possible to stimulate embryonic development in the eggs of sea urchins without sperm by making slight chemical changes to the water where the eggs were kept. This he discovered while conducting experiments at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. His results were published in 'Activation of the unfertilized egg by ultra-violet rays', Science, 40/1036 (1914), 680-1. While Loeb was nominated for the Nobel Prize many times he never won. 1859-04-07T00:00:00+0000Landsteiner was an immunologist and pathologist who has been called the founder of transfusion medicine. In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the main human blood types (A, B and O), published in 1901, and for his development of the ABO system of blood typing which enabled blood transfusion to become a safe medical procedure. In 1909 he also helped discover the microorganism responsible for poliovirus which provided the foundation for the development of the polio vaccine. He also discovered the Rh factor in 1940. This is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. This can cause problems in pregnancy for women with the Rh-negative blood group whose foetus has the Rh-positive blood group. 1868-06-14T00:00:00+0000Carrel was a surgeon and biologist. Inspired by lessons he took from from an embroideress, he developed new techniques for suturing blood vessels that minimised damage to the vascular wall. He was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of 'his work on vascular structure and the transplantation of blood vessels and organs'. During World War I he helped develop a new method for treating wounds based on chlorine, which was a major advance in the care of traumatic wounds. In the 1930s he helped create a glass perfusion pump, a forerunner to the artificial heart. His reputation later became marred in controversy because of his strong support for Eugenic policies of sterilisation for those with families with hereditary diseases and a criminal history as well euthanasia for the mentally defective. In 1944 he was singled out for collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy government, but he died before going on trial. 1873-06-28T00:00:00+0000Noguchi is best remembered for his identification, in 1913, of the causative agent of syphilis (the bacteria Treponema pallidum), and identification of the pathogen responsible for Carrion's disease (a Leishmania parasite). Unable to get a medical position in Japan because of his hand deformity which potential employers feared would put off potential patients, Noguchi spent his life doing laboratory work in the United States. While valued in his lifetime, his reputation took a battering after his death because researchers struggled to reproduce some of his claims, including having discovered the cause of yellow fever, polio and rabies.1876-11-24T00:00:00+0000Avery was a Canadian-American physician who helped discover the genetic information in genes and chromosomes is made up of DNA.1877-10-21T00:00:00+0000A pathologist, Rous won the 1966 Nobel Prize for showing how viruses could cause cancer. He demonstrated this in 1910 by transplanting some material from a cancer tumour taken from a chicken into a healthy chicken. The healthy chicken developed cancer. Other scientists struggled to replicate his experiment in mammals so his discovery was initially dismissed. 1879-10-05T00:00:00+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+0000Northrop shared the 1946 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for helping to develop the technique for purifying and crystallising enzymes and virus proteins. His work showed that enzymes obey the laws of chemical reactions and that they are proteins. In 1930 he crystallised pepsin, a enzyme present in gastric juice necessary for digestion. Eight years later he isolated the first bacterial virus (bacteriophage). This he proved to be a nucleoprotein. Other enzymes that he managed to isolate and crystalise were trypsin and chymotrypsin, both important to the digestive process.1891-07-05T00:00:00+0000Wyckoff pioneered x-ray crystallography of bacteria.1897-08-09T00:00:00+0000Claude was a physician and cell biologist. In 1930 he developed the process of cell fractionation which involves grinding up cells to break up the membrane and their contents. The material is then placed in a centrifuge to separate out the cells's components. With the technique he was able to identify and purify the RNA from the Rous sarcoma virus which causes cancer in chickens. Claude was also one of the first to use of the electron microscope to study biological cells, which enabled him to discover that ribosomes are the power houses of all cells. In addition he helped show that all eukaryotic cells have a lace-work structure. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning cell structure and function. 1898-08-24T00:00:00+0000Stanley was a biochemist and virologist. In 1935 he managed to crystalise the tobacco virus, the causative agent of plant disease. This was a major breakthrough because prior to this no scientists had succeeded in finding out what viruses were. His work laid the foundation for other scientists, using x-ray diffraction, to work out the precise molecular structures and reproduction process of several viruses. During World War II he managed to purify several of the most common influenza viruses and developed a vaccine that was partly effective. In 1946 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the 'preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form.'1904-08-16T00:00:00+0000Chase discovered that white blood cells trigger the immune response in the body confronting a foreign invader. He laid the foundation for the discovery of lymphocyte cells and B and T cells.1905-09-17T00:00:00+0000Tatum shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the 'discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events.'1909-12-14T00:00:00+0000Phoebus Levene, a Russian-American biochemist, describes the building blocks of DNA, including four types of bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T) .1910-01-01T00:00:00+0000The research was carried out by Peyton Rous. The idea that a virus could cause cancer was greeted with scepticism in the scientific community.1911-01-01T00:00:00+0000Stein was a biochemist who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for contributing to understanding the composition and functioning of ribonuclease, an enzyme that catalyses the break down of RNA into smaller components. It was the first structure and sequence worked out for any enzyme. Stein carried out the work with his colleague Stanford Moore in 1963. The two scientists were aided by their invention of the first means for automated amino acid analysis. In addition to his work on ribonuclease, Stein showed how proteins that are comprised of the same amino acids can have very different characteristics and functions. 1911-06-25T00:00:00+0000Palade helped determine cell function and organization. He and colleagues demonstrated that all plant cells and some animal and bacteria cells have a vacuole, an enclosed compartment in the cell membrane, which contains enzymes essential to maintaining the cell's health.1912-11-19T00:00:00+0000A biochemist, Moore shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for contributions to the 'understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule.'1913-09-04T00:00:00+0000 JB Murphy, 'Studies on tissue specificity', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 19 (1914), 181-86.1914-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
7 Apr 1859Jacques Loeb was born in Mayen, Germany LoebRockefeller UniversityReproduction
14 Jun 1868Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna, AustriaLandsteinerRockefeller InstituteImmunology
28 Jun 1873Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, FranceCarrelRockefeller UniversityTransplantation
24 Nov 1876Hideyo Noguchi was bornNoguchiRockefeller InstituteBacteriology
21 Oct 1877 Oswald Theodore Avery was born in Halifax, CanadaAveryRockefeller UniversityDNA
5 Oct 1879Francis Peyton Rous was born in Baltimore MD, USARousRockefeller UniversityVirology, Oncology
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
Jul 1891John H Northrop born in Yonkers NY, USANorthropRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry
9 Aug 1897Ralph W G Wyckoff was born in Geneva, NY, USAWyckoffRockefeller UniversityBacteriology, Virology
24 Aug 1898Albert Claude was born in Longlier, BelgiumClaudeRockefeller Institute, Jules Bordet Institute, University of BrusselsCell
16 Aug 1904Wendell M Stanley was born in Ridgeville IN, USAStanleyRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry, Virology, Vaccine
17 Sep 1905Merrill W Chase born in Providence, RI, USAChaseRockefeller UniversityAntibodies
14 Dec 1909Edward Lawrie Tatum was born in Boulder CO, USATatumRockefeller UniversityGenetics
1910First description of the building blocks of DNALeveneRockefeller UniversityDNA
1911Research provided the first evidence that virus transmits cancer in chickensRousRockefeller InstituteImmunology, Oncology, Virology
25 Jun 1911William H Stein was born in New York NY, USASteinRockefeller UniversityRNA, Biochemistry
19 Nov 1912George E Palade was born in Iasi, RomaniaPaladeRockefeller UniversityCell
4 Sep 1913Stanford Moore was born in Chicago IL, USAMooreRockefeller UniversityBiochemistry
1914Experiments by James B Murphy demonstrate that lymphocytes help animals reject grafted tumoursMurphyRockefeller IntituteImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology

7 Apr 1859

Jacques Loeb was born in Mayen, Germany

14 Jun 1868

Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna, Austria

28 Jun 1873

Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France

24 Nov 1876

Hideyo Noguchi was born

21 Oct 1877

Oswald Theodore Avery was born in Halifax, Canada

5 Oct 1879

Francis Peyton Rous was born in Baltimore MD, USA

29 Apr 1888

Michael Heidelberger was born in New York City, USA

5 Jul 1888

Herbert Spencer Gasser was born in Platteville WI, USA

5 Jul 1888

John H Northrop born in Yonkers NY, USA

9 Aug 1897

Ralph W G Wyckoff was born in Geneva, NY, USA

24 Aug 1898

Albert Claude was born in Longlier, Belgium

16 Aug 1904

Wendell M Stanley was born in Ridgeville IN, USA

17 Sep 1905

Merrill W Chase born in Providence, RI, USA

14 Dec 1909

Edward Lawrie Tatum was born in Boulder CO, USA


First description of the building blocks of DNA


Research provided the first evidence that virus transmits cancer in chickens

25 Jun 1911

William H Stein was born in New York NY, USA

19 Nov 1912

George E Palade was born in Iasi, Romania

4 Sep 1913

Stanford Moore was born in Chicago IL, USA


Experiments by James B Murphy demonstrate that lymphocytes help animals reject grafted tumours