Genetics: Timeline of key events

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Wilkins shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Medicine for work in determining structure of DNA1916-12-15T00:00:00+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+0000Kornberg was a biochemist renowned for his research on enzymes which create DNA. In 1956 he and his team isolated the first enzyme known to be involved in the replication of DNA. It would be called DNA polymerase I. For this work Kornberg shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The Prize was given for the discovery of the 'mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.'1918-03-03T00:00:00+0000Lewis was a developmental geneticist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. He made these discoveries based on the fruit fly. By crossbreeding thousands of flies he demonstrated that genes were arranged on the chromosome in the same order as their body segments, whereby the first set of genes controls the development of the head and thorax, the middle set the abdomen, and the final set the hind parts. He also discovered that the genetic regulatory functions could overlap. A fly with a defective gene in the thoracic region could develop an extra set of wings. His work helped explain the causes of congenital deformities. 1918-05-20T00:00:00+0000Monod was a biochemist who, together with Francois Jacob, worked out the genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis based on their experiments with Escherichia coli in the early 1960s. They proposed that a messenger molecule in cells carried codes from the DNA in the cell nucleus to the site of protein synthesis in the cell's cytoplasm. This molecule was later called messenger RNA. Based on his work Monrod was awarded a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1965. 1920-06-07T00:00:00+0000Jacob was a French biologist who on the back of experiments in bacteria with Jacques Monod provided the first evidence of the existence and role of an intermediary molecule, now known as messenger RNA, which carries genetic information from genes to the cell's protein factories for the production of specific proteins. He shared the Nobel Prize in 1965 for 'discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis.'1920-06-17T00:00:00+0000Witkin is best known for her work on DNA mutagenesis and DNA repair. She helped elucidate the first co-ordinated stress response. This she did studying the response of bacteria to UV radiation. Witkins was one of the first few women to be elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, in 1977. She was also awarded the National Medal of Science in 2002. 1921-03-09T00:00:00+0000Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'1922-01-09T00:00:00+0000Holley shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'1922-01-28T00:00:00+0000Hertwig was a German biologist who determined that fertilisation starts when the nuclei of sperm and ovum cells fuse. This he proved in 1876 through experiments with sea urchins. Eight years later he demonstrated, through investigations of frog eggs, that the cell divides along its long axis. He was also prescient in predicting, in 1885, that the nucleic acid is the substance responsible for fertilisation and the transmission of hereditary traits. This phenomenon was proven in 1944. 1922-10-25T00:00:00+0000Lederberg is best known for having discovered the lambda phage, an indispensable tool for studying gene regulation and genetic recombination. She also invented the replica plating technique which is pivotal to tracking antibiotic resistance. 1922-12-18T00:00:00+0000Lederberg was an American geneticist who helped discover the mechanism of genetic recombination in bacteria. This was based on some experiments he performed with Edward Tatum in 1946 which involved mixing two different strains of bacteria. Their experiments also demonstrated for the first time that bacteria reproduced sexually, rather than by cells splitting in two, thereby proving that bacterial genetic systems were similar to those of multicelluar organisms. Later on, in 1952, working with Norton Zinder, Lederberg found that certain bacteriophages (viruses that affect bacteria) could carry a bacterial gene from one bacterium to another. In 1958 Lederberg shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organisation of the genetic material of bacteria.' 1925-05-23T00:00:00+0000Smithies was a geneticist and physical biochemist. He first made his mark in 1955 through his invention of starch gel electrophoresis, a technique used to study human protein variation. Later on, in the 1980s he developed a method for targeted gene replacement in mice, now known as gene targeting, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2007. His method has paved the way to the creation of thousands of lines of mice carrying desired genetic mutations. Such mice are now widely used to investigate the role of many different genes in human health and disease.1925-06-23T00:00:00+0000T.B. Johnson, R.D. Coghill, 'The discovery of 5-methyl-cytosine in tuberculinic acid, the nucleic acid of the Tubercle bacillus', Journal of the American Chemical Society, 47/11 (1925, 2838–44. 1925-11-01T00:00:00+0000Brenner shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.'1927-01-13T00:00:00+0000Nirenberg was a biochemist and geneticist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for interpreting the genetic code and its function of protein synthesis. The Prize was given on the back of some experiments Nirenberg conducted in 1960 and 1961 which identified particular codons (3 chemical units of DNA) that specified each of the 20 amino acids that make up protein molecules. 1927-04-10T00:00:00+0000Kossel was a German biochemist who was a key pioneer in the field of genetics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1910 for having isolated and described the five organic compounds present in nucleic acid. The compounds he isolated were adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, and uracil. These are key to the formation of DNA and RNA. Kossel's work also laid the foundation for determining the composition of protein and its polypetides. 1927-07-05T00:00:00+0000Watson is a molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist. He is renowned for the part he played in determining the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953, for which he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Nobel Prize for Medicine. Watson also helped set up the Human Genome Project, which he headed up between 1990 to 1992. He left the project after campaign against the NIH patenting of the human genome. In 2007 he became the second person to publish his fully sequenced genome online. This he did to encourage the development of personalised medicine. 1928-04-06T00:00:00+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+0000Founded by Clarence Little, one of the leading researchers into genetic differences governing the rejection of foreign tissues. 1929-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
15 Dec 1916Maurice H F Wilkins was born in Pongaroa, New ZealandWilkinsKing's College LondonDNA, Genetics
7 Feb 1918Ruth Sager was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, USASagerRockefeller UniversityGenetics, Oncology
3 Mar 1918Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn NY, USAKornbergStanford UniversityGenetics, DNA, RNA
20 May 1918Edward B Lewis was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, USALewisCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Embryology
7 Jun 1920Jacques Monod was born in Nancy, FranceMonodPasteur InstituteGenetics
17 Jun 1920Francois Jacob was born in Nancy, FranceJacobPasteur InstituteGenetics
9 Mar 1921Evelyn Witkin was born in New York City, USAWitkinNew York CityDNA, Genetics
9 Jan 1922Har Gobind Khorana was born in Raipur, IndiaKhoranaRaipur, IndiaGenetics
28 Jan 1922Robert W Holley was born in Urbana IL, USAHolleyCornell UniversityGenetics
25 Oct 1922Oskar Hertwig diedHertwig Reproduction, Genetics
18 Dec 1922Esther Lederberg was born in Bronx, New York, USALederbergWisconsin UniversityGenetics, Antimicrobial resistance, Bacteriophages, Lambda phage
23 May 1925Joshua Lederberg was born in Montclair, NJ, USAJ LederbergUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Plasmids, Recombinant DNA
23 Jun 1925Oliver Smithies was born in Halifax, United KingdomSmithesUniversity of Washington, University of North CarolinaGenetics, Transgenic animals
Nov 1925T.B. Johnson and R.D. Coghill reported detecting a minor amount of methylated cytosine derivative as byproduct of hyrdrolysis of tuberculinic acid with sulfuric acid but other scientists struggled to replicate their results. Johnson, CoghillYale UniversityDNA methylation, Epigenetics
13 Jan 1927Sydney Brenner was born in Germiston, South AfricaBrennerLaboratory of Molecular BiologyGenetics
10 Apr 1927Marshall W Nirenberg was born in New York NY, USANirenbergNational Institutes of HealthGenetics, DNA
5 Jul 1927Albrecht Kossel diedKosselUniversity of HeidelbergGenetics
6 Apr 1928James D Watson was born in Chicago, IL, USAWatsonLaboratory of Molecular BiologyDNA, Genetics
7 Nov 1928Norton David Zinder was born New York City, USAZinderRockefeller UniversityGenetics
1929Jackson Memorial Laboratories established to develop inbred strains of mice to study the genetics of cancer and other diseases Jackson Memorial LaboratoroiesGenetics, Immunology, Oncology, Transgenic animals

15 Dec 1916

Maurice H F Wilkins was born in Pongaroa, New Zealand

7 Feb 1918

Ruth Sager was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA

3 Mar 1918

Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn NY, USA

20 May 1918

Edward B Lewis was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

7 Jun 1920

Jacques Monod was born in Nancy, France

17 Jun 1920

Francois Jacob was born in Nancy, France

9 Mar 1921

Evelyn Witkin was born in New York City, USA

9 Jan 1922

Har Gobind Khorana was born in Raipur, India

28 Jan 1922

Robert W Holley was born in Urbana IL, USA

25 Oct 1922

Oskar Hertwig died

18 Dec 1922

Esther Lederberg was born in Bronx, New York, USA

23 May 1925

Joshua Lederberg was born in Montclair, NJ, USA

23 Jun 1925

Oliver Smithies was born in Halifax, United Kingdom

Nov 1925

T.B. Johnson and R.D. Coghill reported detecting a minor amount of methylated cytosine derivative as byproduct of hyrdrolysis of tuberculinic acid with sulfuric acid but other scientists struggled to replicate their results.

13 Jan 1927

Sydney Brenner was born in Germiston, South Africa

10 Apr 1927

Marshall W Nirenberg was born in New York NY, USA

5 Jul 1927

Albrecht Kossel died

6 Apr 1928

James D Watson was born in Chicago, IL, USA

7 Nov 1928

Norton David Zinder was born New York City, USA

1929

Jackson Memorial Laboratories established to develop inbred strains of mice to study the genetics of cancer and other diseases