Rockefeller University: Timeline of key events

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JB Murphy, 'Studies on tissue specificity', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 19 (1914), 181-86.1914-01-01T00:00:00+0000The experiments involved increasing the number of lymphocytes in the blood of mice by treating them with low doses of X-rays. JB Murphy, JJ Morton, 'The effects of X-rays on the resistance to cancer in mice', Science, 42 (1915), 842. 1915-01-01T00:00:00+0000The trials were carried out by James B Murphy and colleagues at the Rockefeller Institute. 1916-01-01T00:00:00+0000de Duve was a cytologist and biochemist. The son of Belgian refugees who fled to England during World War I, de Duve is associated with the discovery of peroxisome and lysosome in the 1950s and 1960s. They are two specialised subunits found within the cell and are vital to the function of the cell. His work paved the way to unravelling the biology of several genetic diseases. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1974 on the back of his 'discoveries concerning the structural and functional organisation of the cell.' de Duve helped determine the structure and function of parts of the cell. 1917-10-02T00:00:00+0000A geneticist by training, Sager enjoyed two careers. She first made her mark in the 1950s and 1950s when she discovered the transmission of genetic traits through chloroplast DNA. This was the first example of genetics not involving the cell nucleus. Later on she became a major pioneer in cancer genetics in the early 1970s and was one of the first to propose and investigate the function of tumour suppressor genes. 1918-02-07T00:00:00+0000Merrifield was a biochemist and organic chemist. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for inventing a process known as solid phase peptide synthesis. He developed the technique in 1965. It provided a methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix. By the mid-1960s he and his team had proved the method could be used to synthesise bradykinin, angiotensin, desamino-oxytocin and insulin. In 1969 they managed to synthesise the enzyme, ribonuclease A. This was the first proof of the chemical nature of enzymes. Merrifield's method is now a rountine method for automatically synthesising large proteins, novel nucleotides, or short fragments of DNA.1921-07-15T00:00:00+0000Loeb was a German-American 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. 1924-02-11T00:00:00+0000Greengard shared the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine for research on how neurotransmitters function in the nervous system.1925-12-11T00:00:00+0000Noguchi was a Japanese bacteriologist. He 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. 1928-05-21T00:00:00+0000 Zinder discovered how hereditary information is transferred from one organism to another. The process is known as genetic transduction.1928-11-07T00:00:00+0000Edelman was a biologist renowned for his research on antibodies. His research helped determine the chemical structure of antibodies in the early 1960s. It showed that antibodies were made up of two light and heavy chains linked together by disulfide bonds. The breakthrough immediately galvanised feverish activity in all fields of immunological science, paving the way to the development of antibodies for both diagnostics and therapy. Edelman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1972 for his work.1929-07-01T00:00:00+0000A Russian-American biochemist, Levene discovered nucleic acids came in two forms: DNA and RNA. He also identified the components of DNA: adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine, deoxyribose and a phosphate group and showed that these components were linked together by nucleotides, phosphate-sugar base units. Born to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Levene emigrated to the US in 1893 as a result of anti-semitic progroms. He was appointed the head of the biochemical laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in 1905 where he spent the rest of his career. 1940-09-06T00:00:00+0000Landsteiner was an Austrian-American 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.1943-06-26T00:00:00+0000The physician-geneticists Oswald Avery, Canadian-born, Colin MacLeod, Canadian-born, and Maclyn McCarty, American-born, published an experiment demonstrating that a harmless bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, can be made virulent by using DNA isolated from a virulent strain. The experiment involved injecting into mice two sets of bacteria, one smooth (virulent) and the other rough (nonvirulent), associated with pneumonia. In the first instance the collaborators injected the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which went on to die. Next they injected the non-virulent bacteria into a mouse, which survived. They then heated the virulent bacteria to kill it and injected it into a mouse, which survived. Following this they injected a mixture of heat-killed bacteria with the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which died. Finally they injected a mixture of harmless bacteria with DNA extracted from the heated lethal bacteria in a mouse which died. The experiment showed that the harmless bacteria became lethal when mixed with DNA from the virulent bacteria. The experiment was published in 'Studies on the chemical nature of the substance inducing the transformation of pneumococcal types', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 79/2 (1944), 137-58. 1944-02-01T00:00:00+0000Carrel was a French 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.1944-11-05T00:00:00+0000R.D. Hotchkiss, 'The quantative separation of purines, pyrimidines, and nucleosides by paper chromatography', J Biol Chem, 175/1 (1948), 315-32. 1948-03-10T00:00:00+0000Henry Kunkel, an American immunologist, while studying the blood of patients with myeloma (a type of cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow) unexpectedly discovers myeloma proteins to resemble normal antibodies.1951-01-01T00:00:00+0000Avery was a Canadian-American physician and bacteriologist who provided the first evidence that that genes are made up of DNA. In 1944 he and colleagues conducted a series of experiments in mice using two sets of bacteria, one smooth (virulent) and the other rough (nonvirulent), associated with pneumonia. In the first instance they injected the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which went on to die. Next they injected the non-virulent bacteria into a mouse, which survived. They then heated the virulent bacteria to kill it and injected it into a mouse, which survived. Following this they injected a mixture of heat-killed bacteria with the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which died. Finally they injected a mixture of harmless bacteria with DNA extracted from the heated lethal bacteria in a mouse which died. The experiment showed that the harmless bacteria became lethal when mixed with DNA from the virulent bacteria. 1955-02-02T00:00:00+0000In 1998 MacKinnon made a major breakthrough in establishing the 3-D structure of a potassium ion channel - a protein linked to transmitting electrical signals down the nerve and muscle cells. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003 on the back of this discovery. 1956-02-19T00:00:00+0000Independently Rodney Porter, a British scientist, and Gerald Edelman, an American biologist, determine the structure of antibodies to consist of heavy and light protein chains, which join together to form three sections yielding a molecule shaped like the letter Y.1962-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
1914Experiments by James B Murphy demonstrate that lymphocytes help animals reject grafted tumoursMurphyRockefeller IntituteImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology
1915 James B Murphy puts forward hypothesis that the nonspecific stimulation of lymphocytes could provide a cure for cancer based on experiments he and John J Morton carried out on miceMurphy, MortonRockefeller InstituteImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology
1916 - 1922Disappointing results reported from clinical trials treating breast cancer patients with low doses of X-ray radiation following tumour removal, discrediting the theory that stimulation of lymphocytes could help cure cancer. MurphyRockefeller InstituteImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology
2 Oct 1917Christian R de Duve was born in Thames Ditton, United Kingdomde DuveRockefeller UniversityCell
7 Feb 1918Ruth Sager was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, USASagerRockefeller UniversityGenetics, Oncology
15 Jul 1921Robert Bruce Merrifield born in Fort Worth, Texas, USAMerrifieldRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry
11 Feb 1924Jacques Loeb diedLoebRockefeller UniversityReproduction
11 Dec 1925Paul Greengard was born in New York NY, USAGreengardRockefeller UniversityNeuroscience
21 May 1928Hideyo Noguchi diedNoguchiRockefeller InstituteBacteriology
7 Nov 1928Norton David Zinder was born New York City, USAZinderRockefeller UniversityGenetics
1 Jul 1929Gerald M Edelman was born in New York NY, USAEdelmanRockefeller UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
6 Sep 1940Phoebus Levene diedLeveneRockefeller UniversityDNA
26 Jun 1943Karl Landsteiner diedLandsteinerRockefeller InstituteImmunology
1 Feb 1944DNA identified as a heritary agentAvery, MacLeod, McCartyRockefeller UniversityDNA
5 Nov 1944Alexis Carrel diedCarrelRockefeller UniversityTransplantation
Mar 1948Hotchkiss discovered the first naturally modifed DNA nucleotide, cytosine, in a chromatography of calf thymus DNAHotchkissRockefeller InstituteEpigenetics
1951Myeloma cells found to resemble normal antibodiesKunkelRockefeller UniversityAntibodies
2 Feb 1955Oswald T Avery diedAveryRockefeller UniversityDNA, Genetics
19 Feb 1956Roderick MacKinnon was born in Burlington MA, USAMackinnonRockefeller UniversityBiochemistry, X ray crystallography
1962Antibodies discovered to have structure like a 'Y'Porter, EdelmanNational Institute for Medical Research, Rockefeller University Antibodies

1914

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

1915

James B Murphy puts forward hypothesis that the nonspecific stimulation of lymphocytes could provide a cure for cancer based on experiments he and John J Morton carried out on mice

1916 - 1922

Disappointing results reported from clinical trials treating breast cancer patients with low doses of X-ray radiation following tumour removal, discrediting the theory that stimulation of lymphocytes could help cure cancer.

2 Oct 1917

Christian R de Duve was born in Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

7 Feb 1918

Ruth Sager was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA

15 Jul 1921

Robert Bruce Merrifield born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA

11 Feb 1924

Jacques Loeb died

11 Dec 1925

Paul Greengard was born in New York NY, USA

21 May 1928

Hideyo Noguchi died

7 Nov 1928

Norton David Zinder was born New York City, USA

1 Jul 1929

Gerald M Edelman was born in New York NY, USA

6 Sep 1940

Phoebus Levene died

26 Jun 1943

Karl Landsteiner died

1 Feb 1944

DNA identified as a heritary agent

5 Nov 1944

Alexis Carrel died

Mar 1948

Hotchkiss discovered the first naturally modifed DNA nucleotide, cytosine, in a chromatography of calf thymus DNA

1951

Myeloma cells found to resemble normal antibodies

2 Feb 1955

Oswald T Avery died

19 Feb 1956

Roderick MacKinnon was born in Burlington MA, USA

1962

Antibodies discovered to have structure like a 'Y'