Genetics: Timeline of key events

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Ruddle helped pioneer human gene mapping and established many of the techniques and a framework for setting up the Human Genome Project. He is also known for having generated, with Jon W. Gordon and George Scango the first successful transgenic mouse. His work heralded the development of genetically modified animals as research models to investigate the function of genes and genetic cause of disease. He also co-discovered, with William McGinnis, the first human homeobox genes, important regulators of gene development. 1929-08-19T00:00:00+0000Michael Smith shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for a technique that enables researchers to introduce specific mutations into genes and, thus, to the proteins that they encode. He developed the method, known as site-directed mutagenesis, in the 1970s, in collaboration with Fred Sanger and Clyde A Hutchinson III. The advantage of the technique was that it allowed comparisons to be made of different protein molecules and provided a means to deliberately alter a specific gene thereby making it possible to modify the characteristics of an organism. His work opened up a new chapter for studying and treating genetic diseases. Site-directed mutagenesis is a pivotal tool today in genetic and protein research and engineering and at the forefront of the development of monoclonal antibody drugs. 1932-04-26T00:00:00+0000Temin shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on the interactions between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell. 1934-12-10T00:00:00+0000Altman is a molecular biologist who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovering the catalytic properties of RNA. This emerged out of some work Altman carried out between 1978 and 1983 on a bacterial enzyme called RNAs-P. His research helped transform the basic understanding of nuclear acids, which up to this moment had been understood to only carry genetic information. It also opened up the possibility of using genetic engineering to develop new forms of therapy against viral infections. 1939-05-07T00:00:00+0000The mice were developed by George Snell. 1940-01-01T00:00:00+0000MK Barrett, 'The influence of genetic constitution upon the induction of resistance to transplantable tumors', Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2 (1940), 387-93.1940-01-01T00:00:00+0000George Beadle and Edward Tatum, American geneticists, demonstrate that genes are responsible for the production of an enzyme. 1941-01-01T00:00:00+0000Evans shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering the 'principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.'1941-01-01T00:00:00+0000C.H. Waddington, 'The Epigenotype', Endeavour, 1 (1942), 18-20.1942-01-01T00:00:00+0000Sulston is a biologist. He played a central role in sequencing the genome of the Caenorhabditis elegans, a transparent nematode (roundworm). It was the first animal to have its genome sequenced. Based on his work with the nematode Sulston helped set up the project to sequence the human genome which he did as director of the Sanger Centre. The first draft of the human genome sequence was completed in 2000. In 2002 he shared the Nobel Prize for identifying how genes regulate the life cycle of cells through apoptosis. 1942-03-27T00:00:00+0000Nusslein-Volhard shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries relating to genetic control of early embryonic development.1942-10-20T00:00:00+00001944-01-01T00:00:00+0000Sharp is a geneticist and molecular biologist. He shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of RNA splicing. This was awarded on the back of some research he did in 1977 which showed that RNA can be divided up into introns and exons, after which the exons can be joined together. This process can happen in different ways. It provides the means for the gene to form a number of different proteins. Sharp also co-founded Biogen, set up in 1978, and helped found Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Magen Biosciences.1944-06-06T00:00:00+0000McClung was a zoologist. He is best known for identifying the role of chromosomes in determining the sex of a species. This he did through a series of experiments with insects between 1901 and 1902. Based on his findings he hypothesised that the accessory chromosome (now known as chromosome X) could be the nuclear element that determined sex. It was the first time a scientist suggested that a given chromosome carried a set of hereditary traits. 1946-01-17T00:00:00+0000Kornberg is a biochemist whose research is focused on working out the mechanism and regulation of transcription, which is the first step in the pathway of gene expression. In 2006 he won the Nobel Prize for working out the protein pathway that a cell's genetic information takes when transferred to a new cell. He showed how information is carried from the genes and converted to molecules called messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA). This he worked out by mapping out the process in yeast. Kornberg was the first to work out how transcription works at a molecular level in eukaryotes, a group of organisms, including humans, whose cells have a well-defined nucleus. 1947-04-24T00:00:00+0000Horvitz is a biologist who shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries into how genes regulate tissue and organ development through cell death. Critically he showed in 1986, through investigations of the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, that the process was controlled by two 'death genes', ced-3 and ced-4. He subsequently identifed another gene, ced-9, which protects against cell death by interacting with ced-3 and ced-4. Later on he found that humans had a counterpart ced-3 gene. His work on cell death, known as apoptosis, opened the door to the development of new cancer treatments.1947-05-08T00:00:00+0000Wieschaus is an evolutionary developmental biologist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for research into genetic controls during early embryonic development. Working together with Nüsslein-Volhard on embryo formation in Drosophila), the fruit fly, Wieschaus helped establish that approximately 5,000 of the fly's 20,000 genes are important to embryo development, of which 150 are essential. 1947-06-08T00:00:00+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+0000The lambda phage has become a key tool in molecular biology and is important for genetic engineering. It has the advantage that it can be easily grown in E Coli and is not pathogenic except in the case of bacteria. Lederberg's discovery paved the way to understanding the transfer of genetic material between bacteria, the mechanisms involved in gene regulation and how piece of DNA break apart and recombine to make new genes. EM Lederberg, 'Lysogenicity in Escherichia coli strain K-12', Microbial Genetics Bulletin, 1, (1950), 5-9. 1950-01-01T00:00:00+0000Jeffreys, a British geneticist, pioneered the process for DNA fingerprinting, a technique that helps identify individuals based on their genetic makeup. It was based on his discovery in 1984 that each individual had unique numbers of repeated DNA fragments, called restriction fragment length polymorphisms, in their cells. 1950-01-09T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
19 Aug 1929Frank Ruddle was born in West New York, New JerseyRuddleYale UniversityGenetics, Transgenic, Cloning
26 Apr 1932Michael Smith was born in Blackpool, United KingdomSmithUniversity of British ColumbiaGene editing, Genetics, Monoclonal antibodies
10 Dec 1934Howard M Temin was born in Philadelphia PA, USATeminUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Oncology
7 May 1939Sidney Altman was born in Montreal, CanadaAltmannLaboratory of Molecular BiologyRNA, genetics
1940The first cogenic line of inbred mouse strains were developed, which helped determine the major histocompatibility complex, a set of genes that code for proteins found on the surfaces of cells which help the immune system recognise foreign substances. SnellJackson LaboratoryGenetics, Immunology
1940Inbred strains of mice bred at Jackson Memorial Laboratory showed that resistance to transplanted tumours were due to body's resistance to genetically different tissueBarrettJackson Memorial LaboratoroiesGenetics, Immunology, Oncology
1941Genes shown to regulate biochemical events within cellsBeadle, TatumStanford University Medical SchoolGenetics
1 Jan 1941Martin J Evans was born in Stroud, United KingdomEvansCardiff UniversityGenetics
1942'Epigenetics' coined as a term to describe how genes interact with the environment to produce the physical traits of an organism WaddngtonCambridge UniversityEpigenetics
27 Mar 1942John E Sulston born in Cambridge, United KingdomSulstonLaboratory of Molecular BiologyCell, Genetics, DNA sequencing
20 Oct 1942Christiane Nusslein-Volhard was born in Magdeburg, GermanyNusslein-VolhardMax-Planck-Institute for Developmental BiologyEmbyology, Genetics
1944Evelyn Wilkin isolated a UV radiation-resistant mutant of E. coliWitkinCold Spring Harbor LaboratoryGenetics
6 Jun 1944Phillip A Sharp was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, USASharpMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Biogen, Alynylam Pharmaceuticals, Magen BiosciencesRNA, genetics
17 Jan 1946Clarence E McClung diedMcClungUniversity of PennsylvaniaGenetics
24 Apr 1947Roger D Kornberg was born in St. Louis, MO, USAKornbergStanford UniversityGenetics, RNA
8 May 1947H Robert Horvitz was born in Chicago IL, USAHorvitzLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyGenetics
8 Jun 1947Eric F Wieschaus was born in South Bend, Indiana, USAWieschaus European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Princeton UniversityGenetics, Embryology
Mar 1948Hotchkiss discovered the first naturally modifed DNA nucleotide, cytosine, in a chromatography of calf thymus DNAHotchkissRockefeller InstituteEpigenetics
Jan 1950Esther Lederberg discovered the lambda phageE LederbergUniversity of WisconsinBacteriophages, Genetics, Recombinant DNA
9 Jan 1950Alec Jeffreys was born in Oxford, United KingdomJeffreysUniversity of LeicesterGenetics

19 Aug 1929

Frank Ruddle was born in West New York, New Jersey

26 Apr 1932

Michael Smith was born in Blackpool, United Kingdom

10 Dec 1934

Howard M Temin was born in Philadelphia PA, USA

7 May 1939

Sidney Altman was born in Montreal, Canada

1940

The first cogenic line of inbred mouse strains were developed, which helped determine the major histocompatibility complex, a set of genes that code for proteins found on the surfaces of cells which help the immune system recognise foreign substances.

1940

Inbred strains of mice bred at Jackson Memorial Laboratory showed that resistance to transplanted tumours were due to body's resistance to genetically different tissue

1941

Genes shown to regulate biochemical events within cells

1 Jan 1941

Martin J Evans was born in Stroud, United Kingdom

1942

'Epigenetics' coined as a term to describe how genes interact with the environment to produce the physical traits of an organism

27 Mar 1942

John E Sulston born in Cambridge, United Kingdom

20 Oct 1942

Christiane Nusslein-Volhard was born in Magdeburg, Germany

1944

Evelyn Wilkin isolated a UV radiation-resistant mutant of E. coli

6 Jun 1944

Phillip A Sharp was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, USA

17 Jan 1946

Clarence E McClung died

24 Apr 1947

Roger D Kornberg was born in St. Louis, MO, USA

8 May 1947

H Robert Horvitz was born in Chicago IL, USA

8 Jun 1947

Eric F Wieschaus was born in South Bend, Indiana, USA

Mar 1948

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

Jan 1950

Esther Lederberg discovered the lambda phage

9 Jan 1950

Alec Jeffreys was born in Oxford, United Kingdom