Virology: Timeline of key events

Mouseover the event title for a more detailed description of the event (if available). To search for particular terms in the description of the event enter the term in the box below 'Event' on the table and press 'enter'. Alternatively use the dropdown lists to filter by Person, Place or Science. Click here to clear the filter.

An American microbiologist, Enders shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for helping to develop a technique to grow the poliomyeltitis virus, paving the way to a vaccine against polio. 1985-09-08T00:00:00+0000The approval was given based on results from a clinical trial carried out by Harry Herr and Herbert Oettgen. The BCG vaccine stimulates an immune response that targets both the tuberculosis bacteria and bladder cancer cells. 1990-01-01T00:00:00+0000Luria was an IItalian microbiologist who made his name in 1943 when he demonstrated, with Max Delbruck, that viruses undergo permanent changes in their hereditary material. The same year he and Delbruck showed phage-resistant bacteria resulted from spontaneous mutations rather than as a direct response to environmental changes. The work helped explain how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. Luria had landed up working with Delbruck in the US because he was banned from academic research fellowships in Italy under Mussolini's Italian fascist regime because of his Jewish background. In 1969 Luria was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for helping to discover the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.1991-02-06T00:00:00+0000Howard shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on the interactions between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell. 1994-02-09T00:00:00+0000Lwoff was a microbiologist. He shared the 1965 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis'. This was based on work he carried out in the early 1950s to understand lysogeny. This is the process by which some the genes of some viruses, bacteriophages (phage), get incorporated into the genetic material of a bacteria but remain latent until the formation of a new phage triggered by a particular event. He found that exposure to ultraviolet light was one factor that could spur on the development a new phage. Lwoff also discovered that vitamins help promote growth in microbes and can serve as co-enzymes. 1994-09-30T00:00:00+0000Wyckoff was a major pioneer of x-ray crystallography of bacteria. He helped develop a high-speed centrifuge for segregating microscopic and submicroscopic material to determine the sizes and molecular weights of small particles. In addition he purified the virus that causes equine encephalomyelitis which laid the foundation for the development of a vaccine to combat an epidemic of the disease in horses. His work in this field enabled him to create a vaccine against epidemic typhus for use in World War II.1994-11-03T00:00:00+0000Developed by William Wunner at the Wistar Institute1995-01-01T00:00:00+0000A medical researcher and virologist, Salk pioneered the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Introduced in 1955, Salk's vaccine helped curb one of the most frightening public health diseases in the world. Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial to test his vaccine. His vaccine used killed vaccine rather than weakened forms of the strain of polio used by Sabin to develop another vaccine against the disease. Salk refused to patent his vaccine and made his technique as widely available as possible. His polio vaccine is now on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicine. 1995-06-23T00:00:00+0000Pirie was a virus physiologist and biochemist. He helped determine that the genetic component of viruses was RNA. Before this viruses were thought to be made up completely of proteins. During World War II he explored the possibility of extracting edible proteins from leaves, research that he carried on into the 1970s. His experiments were directed towards solving the food problem posed by the growing world population. He hoped to replace the inefficient method of feeding animals to secure protein for the diet.1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000Hershey was an American 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.' 1997-05-22T00:00:00+0000Fraenkel-Conrat was a German 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. 1999-04-10T00:00:00+0000The virologists Jeronimo Cello, Aniko Paul, and Eckard Wimmer of the State University of New York, Stony Brook reported constructing an almost perfect replica of the polio virus from published sequences of the virus, and its reverse transcription into viral RNA. Their work was first announced online in 'Chemical synthesis of poliovirus cDNA: Generation of infectious virus in the absence of natural template', Nature, (12 July 2002), doi:10.1038/news020708-17. 2002-07-12T00:00:00+0000Robbins was an American paediatrician and virologist who made his name in 1941 by helping to develop a tissue culture technique to grow the polio virus, one of the most feared diseases at the time. The method involved the growth of the virus using a mixture of human embryonic skin and muscle tissue. It provided an important step towards the development of a vaccine against polio. The tissue culture technique also helped scientists discover new respiratory viruses and paved the way to cultures the measles virus to make a vaccine against it. Robbins shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work. 2003-08-04T00:00:00+0000The vaccine RotaTeq took 25 years to develop. It was developed by Stanley Plotkin, H Fred Clark and Paul Offit.2006-01-01T00:00:00+0000Published in 'Nature Medicine', the system deloys glycoprotein D fused with genes from target antigens to increase the immune response. The work was led by Hildegund C.J. Ertl.2008-01-31T00:00:00+0000Weller was an American physician and virologist whose development of tissue-culture methods, with John P. Enders and Frederick C. Robbins, in October 1949 opened up the means to study viral diseases. Their work paved the way to the development of the polio vaccine. The virus was grown in cultures of human foreskin and embryonic tissues. Weller shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1954 for the 'discovery of the ability of poliomyelitis viruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue.'2008-08-23T00:00:00+0000Dulbecco was an Italian American who 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. 2012-02-19T00:00:00+0000Vaccine developed by David Weiner together with collaborators at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., GeneOne Life Science, Inc., National Microbiology Laboratory at the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the University of Pennsylvania.2016-06-23T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
8 Sep 1985John F Enders diedEndersChildren's Hospital BostonVirology, Vaccine
1990US FDA approved BCG, a bacterial vaccine against tuberculosis, to treat early stage bladder cancer. It was the first FDA approved immunotherapyHerr, OettgenMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Virology
6 Feb 1991Salvador E Luria diedLuriaMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
9 Feb 1994Howard M Temin diedTeminUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Oncology
30 Sep 1994Andre Michel Lwoff diedLwoffPasteur InstituteMicrobiology, Virology
3 Nov 1994Ralph W G Wyckoff diedWyckoffUniversity of Michigan, University of ArizonaBacteriology, Virology, Vaccine
1995US licensed first wildlife rabies vaccine Wistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
23 Jun 1995Jonas Salk diedSalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccine
29 Mar 1997Death of Norman Wingate (Bill) PiriePirieRothamsted Experimental StationRNA, Virology
22 May 1997Alfred D Hershey diedHersheyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonGenetics, Virology
10 Apr 1999Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat diedFraenkel-Conrat University of California BerkeleyGenetics, Virology
12 Jul 2002Polio: First ever virus synthesised from chemicals aloneCello, Paul, WimmerStony Brook UniversityDNA Sequencing, Virology
4 Aug 2003Frederick Chapman Robbins diedRobbinsWestern Reserve UniversityVirology, Vaccine
2006Vaccine approved for preventing rotavirus, a major kiler of children Plotkin, Clark, OffitWistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
31 Jan 2008New vaccine delivery system unveiled for preventing viral diseasesErtlWistar InstituteVaccines, Virology
23 Aug 2008Thomas H Weller diedWellerChildren's Medical Center BostonVirology
19 Feb 2012Renato Dulbecco diedDulbeccoImperial Cancer Research Fund LaboratoryGenetics, Virology, Oncology
23 Jun 2016FDA approved first clinical trial for zika virus vaccineWeinerWistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, GeneOne Life Science, Public Health Agency of CanadaVaccines, Virology

8 Sep 1985

John F Enders died


US FDA approved BCG, a bacterial vaccine against tuberculosis, to treat early stage bladder cancer. It was the first FDA approved immunotherapy

6 Feb 1991

Salvador E Luria died

9 Feb 1994

Howard M Temin died

30 Sep 1994

Andre Michel Lwoff died

3 Nov 1994

Ralph W G Wyckoff died


US licensed first wildlife rabies vaccine

23 Jun 1995

Jonas Salk died

29 Mar 1997

Death of Norman Wingate (Bill) Pirie

22 May 1997

Alfred D Hershey died

10 Apr 1999

Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat died

12 Jul 2002

Polio: First ever virus synthesised from chemicals alone

4 Aug 2003

Frederick Chapman Robbins died


Vaccine approved for preventing rotavirus, a major kiler of children

31 Jan 2008

New vaccine delivery system unveiled for preventing viral diseases

23 Aug 2008

Thomas H Weller died

19 Feb 2012

Renato Dulbecco died

23 Jun 2016

FDA approved first clinical trial for zika virus vaccine