Rockefeller University: Timeline of key events

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An American 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. 1972-02-16T00:00:00+0000Tatum shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering how genes regulate biochemical events in cells. 1975-11-05T00:00:00+0000Stein was an American 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.1980-02-02T00:00:00+0000Claude was a Belgian 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.1983-05-22T00:00:00+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, an 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. 1987-05-27T00:00:00+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 like pneumonia and meningitis.1991-06-25T00:00:00+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. 1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000An American immunologist, Chase 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.2004-01-05T00:00:00+0000Merrifield was an American 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. 2006-05-14T00:00:00+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. 2008-10-07T00:00:00+0000Zinder discovered how hereditary information is transferred from one organism to another. The process is known as genetic transduction.2012-02-03T00:00:00+0000D. Bikard, L A Marrafini, 'Control of gene expression by CRISPR-Cas systems', F1000Prime Rep, 5 (2013) 47. 2013-02-01T00:00:00+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.'2013-05-04T00:00:00+0000Edelman was an American biologist renowned for his research on antibodies, the body's defense against harmful foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. 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. 2014-05-17T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
16 Feb 1972Francis Peyton Rous diedRousRockefeller UniversityVirology, Oncology
5 Nov 1975Edward Lawrie Tatum diedTatumRockefeller UniversityGenetics
2 Feb 1980William H Stein diedSteinRockefeller UniversityRNA, Biochemistry
22 May 1983Albert Claude died ClaudeRockefeller Institute, Jules Bordet Institute, University of BrusselsCell
May 1987John H Northrop diedNorthropRockefeller Institute Biochemistry
25 Jun 1991Michael Heidelberger died in New York City, USAHeidelbergerRockefeller Institute, Columbia UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
29 Mar 1997Ruth Sager diedSagerRockefeller UniversityGenetics, Oncology
5 Jan 2004Merrill W Chase diedChaseRockefeller University 
14 May 2006Robert Bruce Merrifield diedMerrifieldRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry
7 Oct 2008George Emil Palade diedPaladeRockefeller UniversityCell
3 Feb 2012Norton David Zinder diedZinderRockefeller UniversityGenetics
Feb 2013CRISPR-Cas shown to programme repression and activation of gene transcription Bikard, MurrafiniRockefeller UniversityCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
4 May 2013Christian Rene de Duve diedde DuveRockefeller University, Leuven UniversityCell
17 May 2014Gerald M Edelman diedEdelmanRockefeller UniversityAntibodies, Immunology

16 Feb 1972

Francis Peyton Rous died

5 Nov 1975

Edward Lawrie Tatum died

2 Feb 1980

William H Stein died

22 May 1983

Albert Claude died

22 May 1983

John H Northrop died

25 Jun 1991

Michael Heidelberger died in New York City, USA

29 Mar 1997

Ruth Sager died

5 Jan 2004

Merrill W Chase died

14 May 2006

Robert Bruce Merrifield died

7 Oct 2008

George Emil Palade died

3 Feb 2012

Norton David Zinder died

Feb 2013

CRISPR-Cas shown to programme repression and activation of gene transcription

4 May 2013

Christian Rene de Duve died

17 May 2014

Gerald M Edelman died