Genetics: Timeline of key events

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Pauling was a chemist and biochemist who helped pioneer quantum chemistry and mechanics. He combined methods from x-ray crystallography, molecular model building and quantum chemistry. Pauling was the first to find the alpha helix structure of proteins. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 'research on the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex structures.' He also co-authored the first paper to suggest sickle-cell anaemia was a genetic disease, which introduced the concept of 'molecular disease'. 1901-02-28T00:00:00+0000Theodor Boveri, German biologist, and Walter Sutton, American geneticist and physician, independently develop the theory that chromosomes carry genetic material.1902-01-01T00:00:00+0000Archibald Garrod, an English physician, suggests that genetic defects cause the loss of enzymes and hereditary metabolic diseases, providing the first premise for gene therapy. 1902-01-01T00:00:00+0000McClintock was a pioneer in the field of cytogenetics, a branch of genetics concerned with how chromosomes affect cell behaviour. Based on her investigation of how chromosomes change in reproductiuon in maize she demonstrated in the late 1920s that genes can shift to different locations by themselves. In the 1940s and 1950s she showed that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off, a process called transposition. Initially scientists were sceptical of her findings so she stopped publishing her date in 1953. By the 1960s and 1970s attitudes towards her work changed as more scientists made similar findings. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her work.1902-06-16T00:00:00+0000Beadle was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1958 for discovering the role of genes in regulating biochemical events within cells.1903-10-22T00:00:00+0000Snell was a major founder of immunogenetics as a discipline. He is best known for helping to identify the major histocompatibility complex, a group of genes that code for proteins found on the surface of cells that help the immune system differentiate between self and nonself cells, and demonstrating its role in tissue graft rejection. This work laid the foundation for carrying out successful transplants in both animals and humans. Snell shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions'.1903-12-19T00:00:00+0000Flemming was a German biologist who is credited as the founder of cytogenetics. He was the first to describe the behaviour of chromosomes during cell division, a process he called mitosis. This he discovered through investigations of the fins and gills of salamanders. He first published his findings in 1878. In addition to his pioneering scientific work, Flemming is famous for his social activism. Notably he fed the homeless on a weekly basis and donated 20% of his salary to homeless shelters. He also taught mathematics and science to children too poor to attend school. 1905-08-04T00:00:00+0000A biochemist, Ochoa shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.'1905-09-24T00:00:00+0000A German biophysicist, Delbruck helped discover how viruses replicate their genetic structure, showing that bacterial resistance from viruses is due to random mutation and not the result of adaptive changes. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine on the back of this work. 1906-09-04T00:00:00+0000Hershey was a bacteriologist and geneticist. He is best known for a series of experiments with bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, that helped confirm that DNA, rather than proteins, carried genetic material. These he performed with Martha Chase in 1952. Hershey shared the 1969 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.' 1908-12-04T00:00:00+0000Tatum shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the 'discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events.'1909-12-14T00:00:00+0000Thomas Hunt Morgan, American evolutionary biologist, links the inheritance of a specific trait with a particular chromosome in fruit flies (Drosophila). 1910-01-01T00:00:00+0000van Beneden was a Belgian cytologist and embryologist. He worked out how chromosomes divide during cell meiosis. Based on studies of an intestinal worm found in horses, he also showed that fertilisation involves the union of two half-nuclei, one form the male sperm cell and one from the female egg, each containing half the the number of chromosomes found in all cells. He later demonstrated that the chromosome number is constant for every body cell in each species. 1910-04-28T00:00:00+0000Fraenkel-Conrat was a biochemist who discovered that RNA is pivotal to the genetic control of viral reproduction and that it is carried in the nucelic core of each virus. He made this finding in 1955 during experiments with the tobacco mosaic virus. By 1960 he had determined the complete sequence of the 159 amino acids in the virus.1910-04-29T00:00:00+0000Galton is best known as an early pioneer of Eugenics1911-01-17T00:00:00+0000Stevens was an American biologist who was one of the first scientists to describe the importance of the Y chromosome for determining the sex of some species, and to recognise that females have two X chromosomes. This she determined after noting male beetles produced two kinds of sperm: each with different sized chromosomes. In 1905 she was awarded $1000 for the best scientific paper written by a women. Five years later she was listed as one of America's leading 1000 scientists by The New York Times. 1912-05-04T00:00:00+0000Luria shared the 1969 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.'1912-08-13T00:00:00+0000Mazia was a cell biologist whose passion was to understand how cells reproduce. As a doctoral research he was one of the first to establish the role of calcium in the egg activation in the process of fertilisation. Following this worked on the process of cell division, structure and division. He is best known for the work he did in 1931 which helped identify the cell structure responsible for mitosis, the process when a eukaryotic cell divides chromosomes into two identical daughter cells. Mazia also determined how the nucleus and chromosomes change during the cell cycle.1912-12-18T00:00:00+0000Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell.' His work not only aided better understanding of how viruses cause cancer but also HIV. 1914-02-22T00:00:00+0000Crick is best known for the work he did with James Watson that identified the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962. He also developed the central dogma of molecular biology which explained how genetic information flowed within a biological system, moving from DNA to RNA and then protein. His subsequent work looked at the way in which the brain works and the nature of consciousness. 1916-06-08T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
28 Feb 1901Linus C Pauling was born in Portland OR, USAPaulingCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, DNA
1902Chromosomes linked with inheritanceBoveri, GarrodZoological-Zootomical Institute, Columbia UniversityGenetics, DNA
1902 - 1908Metabolic disease explained by genetic defectsGarrodOxford UniversityGenetics
16 Jun 1902Barbara McClintock was born in Hartford CT, USAMcClintockUniversity of MissouriGenetics
22 Oct 1903George Wells Beadle was born in Wahoo NE, USABeadleCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics
19 Dec 1903George D Snell was born in Bradford MA, USASnellJackson LaboratoryGenetics, Immunology, Transplantation
4 Aug 1905Walther Flemming diedFlemmingUniversity of KielCell, Genetics
24 Sep 1905Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca, SpainOchoaNew York UniversityGenetics, DNA
4 Sep 1906Max Delbruck was born in Berlin, GermanyDelbruckCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
4 Dec 1908Alfred D Hershey was born in Owosso, MI, USAHersheyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonGenetics, Virology
14 Dec 1909Edward Lawrie Tatum was born in Boulder CO, USATatumRockefeller UniversityGenetics
1910Chromosomes linked with hereditary traitsMorganColumbia UniversityGenetics
28 Apr 1910Edouard van Beneden diedvan Beneden University of LiegeCell, Genetics, DNA
29 Apr 1910Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat was bornFraenkel-Conrat University of California BerkeleyGenetics, Virology
17 Jan 1911Francis Galton diedGalton Genetics
4 May 1912Nettie Maria Stevens diedStevensBryn Mawr College, Carnegie InstituteGenetics
13 Aug 1912Salvador E Luria was born in Torino, ItalyLuriaMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
18 Dec 1912Daniel Mazia was born Scranton, PA, USAMaziaUniversity of California BerkeleyCell, Genetics, Reproduction
22 Feb 1914Renato Dulbecco was born in Catanzaro, ItalyDulbeccoImperial Cancer Research Fund LaboratoryGenetics, Virology, Oncology
8 Jun 1916Francis H C Crick was born in Northampton, United KingdomCrickLaboratory of Molecular BiologyDNA, Genetics

28 Feb 1901

Linus C Pauling was born in Portland OR, USA


Chromosomes linked with inheritance

1902 - 1908

Metabolic disease explained by genetic defects

16 Jun 1902

Barbara McClintock was born in Hartford CT, USA

22 Oct 1903

George Wells Beadle was born in Wahoo NE, USA

19 Dec 1903

George D Snell was born in Bradford MA, USA

4 Aug 1905

Walther Flemming died

24 Sep 1905

Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca, Spain

4 Sep 1906

Max Delbruck was born in Berlin, Germany

4 Dec 1908

Alfred D Hershey was born in Owosso, MI, USA

14 Dec 1909

Edward Lawrie Tatum was born in Boulder CO, USA


Chromosomes linked with hereditary traits

28 Apr 1910

Edouard van Beneden died

29 Apr 1910

Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat was born

17 Jan 1911

Francis Galton died

4 May 1912

Nettie Maria Stevens died

13 Aug 1912

Salvador E Luria was born in Torino, Italy

18 Dec 1912

Daniel Mazia was born Scranton, PA, USA

22 Feb 1914

Renato Dulbecco was born in Catanzaro, Italy

8 Jun 1916

Francis H C Crick was born in Northampton, United Kingdom