The role of women in biotechnology

Women in biotechnology: timeline of key discoveries

A timeline of key biomedical discoveries in which women played a pivotal role.

Curie's idea laid the foundation for disproving the traditional belief that atoms were indivisible. She made the hypothesis after discovering that the activity of uranium compounds depend on the quantity of uranium present1897-01-01T00:00:00+00001897-01-01T00:00:00+00001898-01-01T00:00:00+0000Curie used the term to describe the behaviour of uranium and thorium. 1898-04-01T00:00:00+0000Studying the mealworm, Stevens found that males made reproductive cells with both X and Y chromosomes whereas the females made only those with X. NM Stevens, 'Studies in spermatogenesis with special reference to the accessory chromosome', Studies in Sermatogenesis (Washington, DC, 1905), 1-32. 1905-01-01T00:00:00+00001911-01-01T00:00:00+0000Known as 'Petits Curies' the technology helped locate fractures, bullets and shrapnel in wounded soldiers. 1914-01-01T00:00:00+0000The Cori's work helped identify the cyclical process that muscle cells use to make and store energy. Their insights into the process of sugar metabolism opened up new understandings of diabetes and the means to treat it. 1929-01-01T00:00:00+0000This was based on their experiments with the variegated colour pattern of maize kernels which showed that some genetic elements on the chromosome are capable of movement. They published their results in 'A Correlation of Cytological and Genetical Crossing-Over in Zea Mays',PNAS, 7/8 (1931), 492-97. 1931-08-01T00:00:00+00001934-01-01T00:00:00+0000The drug was produced from a rabbit anti-serum. It was the first effective treatment. Alexander continued to refine the treatment through the early 1940s. Her work led to a significant reduction in infant mortality from the disease, reducing the mortality rate to 20%. 'Response to antiserums in meningococcic infections of human beings and mice,' American Journal of Diseases of Children, 58/4 (1939), 746-52.1939-10-01T00:00:00+0000The team that undertook the work included Martin Dawson, the clinician and co-ordinator of the project, Glady Hobby who handled the microbiology work and Karl Meyer who did the chemical extraction work. The work was reported in GL Hobby, MH Dawson, et al, 'Effect of the rate of growth of bacteria on action of penicillin', Experimental Biology and Medicine, 56/2 (June 1 1944), 181-4.1940-09-01T00:00:00+0000Witkin discovered the radiation resistance after exposing E coli stain B bacteria to high doses of UV light. She subsequently worked out that the resistance was due to a particular genetic mutation in the bacteria strain which inhibited cell division. Witkin did the work under the guidance of Milislav Demerec at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She published her findings in EM Witkin, 'A case of inherited resistance to radiation in bacteria', Genetics, 31 (1946) 236; EM Witkin, 'Inherited Differences in Sensitivity to Radiation in Escherichia Coli', PNAS USA, 32/3 (1946), 59–68. Witkin's work laid the foundation for showing that cell division is inhibited when DNA is damaged and was the first demonstration of a cell checkpoint. 1944-01-01T00:00:00+0000The work was undertaken by Dorothy Hodgkin and CH (Harry) Carlise. It was published in CH Carlisle, D Crowfoot, 'The Crystal Structure of Cholesteryl Iodide'. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 184/996 (1945, 64. 1945-01-01T00:00:00+0000This was worked out by Dorothy Hodgkin and colleagues. Contrary to scientific opinion, the team showed that penicillin contained a beta-actam ring. Because wartime work on penicillin was secret, the structure of penicillin was only published in 1949. It appeared in D. Crowfoot, CW Bunn, BW Rogers-Low and A Turner Jones, The Chemistry of Penicillin (Princeton University Press, 1949) 310. 1945-05-01T00:00:00+00001947-01-01T00:00:00+0000HE Alexander, G Leidy, 'Mode of action of streptomycin on type B Hemophilus influenzae. II. Nature of Resistant variants', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 85/6 (1947), 607-21.1947-06-01T00:00:00+0000This was based on McClintock's finding that two genes that controlled for pigmentation in maize could move along the chromosome to a different site and that these changes affected the behaviour of neighbouring genes. She suggested that this explained new mutations in pigmentation and other characteristics. 1948-01-01T00:00:00+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+0000HE Alexander and G Leidy, 'Transformation of Type Specificity of H. influenzae,' American Pediatric Society, French Lick, May 10, 1950.1950-05-10T00:00:00+0000Noted by Salvador Luria and his graduate student Mary Human while conducting experiments into the break-up of DNA in phage-infected bateria.1952-01-01T00:00:00+0000Known as Photo 51, this image was shown, without Franklin's permission, to James Watson, who, together with Francis Crick, used it to develop the double-helix model of DNA.1952-01-03T00:00:00+0000By transferring tumours to chick embryos, Levi-Montalcini noticed that certain cancerous tissue caused extremely rapid growth of nerve cells. She described it as 'like rivulets of water flowing steadily over a bed of stones.' R Levi-Montalcini, 'Effects of mouse tumor transplantation on the nervous system', Annals of the NY Academy of Sciences, 55/2 (1952), 330-44.1952-08-08T00:00:00+0000The drug emerged out of studies of organic compounds called purines conducted by Gertrude Elion with George Hitchings. Elion hypothesised that by preventing purines entering the metabolic pathway that leads to DNA synthesis it would be possible to stop the production of DNA and thereby stop cell growth. Elion synthesised a forerunner of 6-mercaptopurine in 1949, which was found to inhibit the growth of leukaemia in mice. 1953-01-01T00:00:00+0000Rosalind Franklin publishes Photo 51 in a joint paper with Raymond Gosling in Nature.1953-04-01T00:00:00+0000The structure was worked out by Dorothy Hodgkin and her team using x-ray crystallography. The project was a major challenge because of the large size of the molecule and the fact that its atoms were largely unaccounted for. Dorothy Hodgkin, Jennifer Kamper, Maureen Mackay, Jennuy Pickworth, Kenneth N Trueblood, John G White, 'Structure of Vitamin B12', Nature, 178 (1956), 64-66. The achievement was described by Lawrence Bragg as significant 'as breaking the sound barrier'. It paved the way to the synthesis of the vitamin which is now given to patients with pernicious anaemia., 1956-07-14T00:00:00+0000Franklin was a British biophysicist who provided the first evidence of the double helix structure of DNA. She captured the structure in photo 51, an image she made of DNA using x-ray crystallography in 1952. Data from the photo was pivotal to Crick and Watson's building of their DNA double helical structure of DNA which they won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Sadly Franklin died too young, age 37, to receive the Nobel Prize for her work. 1958-04-16T00:00:00+0000Originally developed to measure insulin levels, the radioimmunoassay (RIA) provides a highly sensitive means of measuring incredibly low concentrations of many different substances in solutions. It does this by taking advantage of the antigen-antibody reaction and radioactive materials. The technique is now used for a variety of purposes, including screening for the hepatitis virus in blood, determining effective dosage levels of drugs and antibiotics, detecting foreign substances in the blood and correcting hormone levels in infertile couples. RS Yalolw, SA Berson, 'Assay of plasma in human subjects by immunological methods', Nature, 184 (1959), 1648-49. 1959-11-21T00:00:00+0000Lorraine Kraus incubated bone marrow cells from a patient with sickle-cell anaemia with DNA from healthy donor. L.M. Kraus, ‘Formation of different haemoglobins in tissue culture of human bone marrow treated with human deoxyribonucleic acid’, Nature, 4807 (1961) 1055-57. 1961-12-16T00:00:00+0000Werner Arber, Swiss microbiologist and geneticist, and his doctoral student Daisy Dussoix propose bacteria produce restriction and modification enzymes to counter invading viruses. W. Arber, D. Dussoix, Journal Molecular Biology, 5 (1962), 18–36 and 37-49.1962-01-23T00:00:00+0000H Alexander and K Sprunt, 'Invasion of mammalian cells by ribonucleic acid (RNA) isolated from poliovirus', 10th International Congress of Pediatrics, Lisbon, Portugal, September 9-15, 1962.1962-09-01T00:00:00+0000The finding was based on 10 years of research conducted by Elizabeth Stern with 10,5000 women who used a family planning clinic in Los Angeles. E Stern, PM Neely, 'Carcinoma and Dysplasia of the Cervix: A comparison of rates for new and returning populations', Acta Cytol, 7 (1963), 357-61.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000May-Britt Moser is best known the pioneering research she did with her husband, Edvard, on the brain's mechanism for representing space. In 2005 they discovered a type of nerve cell near the hippocampus that helps with navigation. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014 on the back of this work. 1963-01-04T00:00:00+00001964-02-19T00:00:00+0000Witkin proposed that UV-induced block of cell-division was due to the inhibition of a DNA replication enzyme. EM Witkin, 'Photoreversal and dark repair of mutations to prototrophy induced by ultraviolet light in photoreactivable and non-photoreactivable strains of Escherichia coli', Mutat Res, 106 (1964), 22–36.1964-05-01T00:00:00+0000The book contained all protein sequences known to-date. It was the result of a collective effort led by Margaret Dayhoff to co-ordinate the ever-growing amount of information about protein sequences and their biochemical function. It provided the model for GenBank and many other molecular databases. 1965-01-01T00:00:00+0000Allopurinol was originally developed by Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings. The drug works by inhibiting uric acid synthesis. 1966-08-01T00:00:00+0000Tu did this as part of the Chinese national project against malaria. In the first stage of the project her team investigated more than 2,000 Chinese herbal preparations and identified 640 with possible anti-malarial activities. More than 380 were evaluated in a mouse model of malaria. 1967-01-01T00:00:00+0000The drug was developed by Gertrude Elion in 1957 as part of her development of purine analogues. 1968-03-01T00:00:00+0000Brigette Askonas, a Canadian biochemist, Alan Williamson, a British immunologist, and Brian Wright cloned B cells in vivo using spleen cells from mice immunised with haptenated carrier antigen. BA Askonas, AR Williamson, BEG Wright, 'Selection of a single antibody-forming cell clone and its propagation in syngeneic mice', PNAS, 67/3 (1970), 1398-14031970-11-01T00:00:00+0000This was done in Dale Kaiser's laboratory by Douglas Berg together with Janet Mertz and David Jackson1971-01-01T00:00:00+0000The power of restriction enzymes to cut DNA was demonstrated by Kathleen Danna, a graduate student, with Daniel Nathans, her doctoral supervisor, at Johns Hopkins University. They published the technique in 'Specific cleavage of simian virus 40 DNA by restriction endonuclease of Hemophilus influenzae', PNAS USA, 68/12 (1971), 2913-17.1971-12-01T00:00:00+0000This followed positive results from clinical trials showing it could be effective for treating malaria. 1972-01-01T00:00:00+0000It was based on their finding that when DNA is cleaved with EcoRI, a restriction enzyme, it has sticky ends. JE Mertz, RW Davis, 'Cleavage of DNA by RI restriction endonuclease generates cohesive ends', PNAS, 69, 3370–3374 (1972). 1972-11-01T00:00:00+0000The phenomenon was worked out by Evelyn Witkin with Miroslav Radman. They showed that the repair is induced DNA damage which activates a co-ordinated cellular response. Their key papers on the matter were EM Witkin, DL George, 'Ultraviolet mutagenesis in polA and UvrA polA derivatives of Escherichia coli B-R: evidence for an inducible error-prone repair system', Genetics, 73/Suppl 73 (1973), 91–10; M Radman, 'SOS repair hypothesis: Phenomenology of an inducible DNA repair which is accompanied by mutagenesis', Basic Life Science, 5A (1975), 355–67; EM Witkin, 'Ultraviolet mutagenesis and inducible DNA repair in Escherichia coli', Bacteriol Review, 40/4 (1976), 869–907. 1973-01-01T00:00:00+0000Her thesis focused on methods to isolate and characterise mutant variants of SV40 1975-01-01T00:00:00+0000The work was conducted by a team led by Brigette Askonas. It was published in AJ McMichael, A Ting, HJ Zweerink, BA Askonas, 'HLA restriction of cell-mediated lysis of influenza virus-infected human cells', Nature, 270/5637 (1977), 524-6; AJ McMichael, BA Askonas, 'Influenza virus-specific cytotoxic T cells in man; induction and properties of the cytotoxic cell', European Journal Immunolology, 8 (1978), 705-11.1977-01-01T00:00:00+0000The method, known as the oocyte stem, was developed by Janet Mertz together with John Gurdon and Edward M DeRobertis. It was published in EM. De Robertis, JB. Gurdon, GA. Partington, JE Mertz, RA, 'Injected amphibian oocytes: a living test tube for the study of eukaryotic gene transcription?', Biochemistry Society Symposium, 42 (1977),181-91.1977-01-01T00:00:00+0000The cloning, achieved by Beverly Griffin with Tomas Lindahl, was announced to a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor1979-01-01T00:00:00+0000Conducted by a team led by Beverly Griffin, the project's completion was a major achievement. It was one of the largest tracts of eukaryotic DNA sequenced up to this time. The work was published in E Soeda, JR Arrand, N Smolar, JE Walsh, BE Griffin, ‘Coding potential and regulatory signals of the polyoma virus genome’, Nature, 283 (1980) 445-53.1980-01-01T00:00:00+0000The database was started by Margaret Dayhoff at the NBRF in the mid 1960s and comprised over 200,000 residues. Within a month of its operation more than 100 scientists had requested access to the database. The database was funded with contributions from m Genex, Merck, Eli Lilly, DuPont, Hoffman–La Roche, and Upjohn, and computer time donated by Pfizer Medical Systems.1980-09-15T00:00:00+0000The device was developed by the husband and wife team Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair with the goal of enabling the user not only to hear sounds but also to understand speech. The implant has a long, flexible electrode which allows for the delivery of electric signals to the auditory nerve along a large part of the cochlear. 1980-12-15T00:00:00+0000Youyou Tu and her team presented their paper 'Studies on the Chemistry of Qinghaosu', which outlined the efficacy of artemisinin and its derivatives in treating several thousand patients infected with malaria in China. The work attracted worldwide attention. 1981-01-01T00:00:00+0000The work, led by Beverly Griffin, opened up the possibility of sequencing the virus. It was published in J R Arrand, L. Rymo, J E Walsh, E Bjorck, T Lindahl and B E Griffin, ‘Molecular cloning of the complete Epstein-Barr virus genome as a set of overlapping restriction endonuclease fragments’, Nucleic Acids Research, 9/13 (1981), 2999-2014.1981-07-10T00:00:00+0000The drug was originally synthesised by Howard Schaeffer and then worked on by Gertrude Elion and her team at the Wellcome Research Laboratories. Elion's group worked out the metabolism of the drug and how it coluld attack the herpes virus. Their work opened up further research on enzyme differences in normal and virus-infected cells that paved the way to the development of other antiviral drugs. 1982-03-29T00:00:00+0000Two teams of scientists publish methods for the generation of chimeric monoclonal antibodies, that is antibodies possessing genes that are half-human and half mouse. Each team had developed their techniques separate from each other. The first team was lead by Michael Neuberger together with Terence Rabbitts and other colleagues at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. The second team consisted of Sherie Morrison and colleagues at Stanford University together with Gabrielle Boulianne and others at the University of Toronto. 1984-12-01T00:00:00+0000The scientists found the enzyme in the model organism Tetrahymena thermophila, a fresh-water protozoan with a large number of telomeres. CW Greider, EH Blackburn, 'Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts', Cell. 43 (2 Pt 1) (1985), 405–13.1984-12-01T00:00:00+0000The experiments, carried out in mice by Brigette Askobas and her colleagues, showed that T cells transferred into RSV infected mice showed that the T cells could protect against viral replication, eliminating residual virus from immunosuppressed mice. It also showed that T cells could at the same time cause enhanced lung disease that could be leathal. MJ Cannon, EJ Stott, G Taylor, BA Askonas, 'Clearance of persistent respiratory syncytial virus infections in immunodeficient mice following transfer of primed T cells', Immunology, 62 (1987), 133-38; MJ Cannon, PJ Openshaw, BA Askonas, 'Cytotoxic T cells clear virus but augment lung pathology in mice infected with respiratory syncytial virus', Journal Experimental Medicine, 168/3 (1988), 1163-8.1987-04-30T00:00:00+0000JA Doudna, BP Cormack, JW Szostak, 'RNA Structure, Not Sequence, Determines the 5? Splice-Site Specificity of a Group I Intron', PNAS, 86/19 (1989), 7402-06.1989-10-01T00:00:00+0000The was determined by a team led by Marie-Claire King who conducted a genetic analysis of 23 extended families, a total of 329 relatives. J Hall, M Lee, B Newman, J Morrow, L Anderson, B Huey, M King, 'Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21', Science, 250/4988 (1990): 1684–89. 1990-12-01T00:00:00+0000The work was led by Padmanee Sharma. The team's finding appeared in P. Sharma et al, ‘Thymus-leukaemia antigen interacts with T cells and self-peptides’, Journal Immunology, 156 (1996), 987-96.1996-02-01T00:00:00+0000N Krauzewicz, K Stokrova, C Jenkins, M Elliott, CF Higgns, BE Griffin, ‘Virus-like gene transfer to cell nuclei mediated by polyoma virus pseudocapsids’, Gene Therapy, 7 (2000), 2122-31.2000-01-02T00:00:00+0000The work was led by Ada Yonath using x-ray crystallography. This was a major achievement given the hundreds of thousands of atoms that ribosomes contain. Ribosomes help build proteins in the body. The work has led to many applications, including for the production of antibiotics. F Schlunzen, R Zarivach, J Harms, A Bashan, A Ticilj, R Albrecht, A Yonath, F Franceschi, 'Structural basis for the interaction of antibiotics with the peptidyl transferase centre in eubacteria', Nature, 413 (2001), 814-21. 2001-10-25T00:00:00+0000Padmanee Sharma et al, ‘Frequency of NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1 expression in bladder cancer and evidence of a new NY-ESO-1 T-cell epitope in a patient with bladder cancer’, Cancer Immunology, 3 (Dec 13 2003), 19.2003-12-13T00:00:00+0000The finding was made by the husband and wife team May-Britt Moser and Edvard I Moser together with John O'Keefe after conducting experiments with rats. They found that when a rat developed nerve cells that form a co-ordinate system for navigation when they passed certain points on a hexagonal grid. The teams work laid the foundation for new understandings about the cognitive processes and spacial deficits associated with neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. 2005-01-01T00:00:00+0000A team at Harvard Stem Cell Institute reported fusing adult skin cells with embryonic stem cells to reset the culture so that the cells behave like embryonic stem cells. The researchers did the work using pelvic bone cells as the somatic cells and a different human embryonic cell line. Chad A Cowan, Jocelyn Alenza, Douglas A Melton, Kevin Eggan, 'Nuclear reprogramming of somatic cells after fusion with human embryonic stem cells', Science, 309/5739 (2005), 1369-73. 2005-08-25T00:00:00+0000This was first observed by Padmanee Sharma. Her findings provided an important pathway for improving the clinical efficacy of anti-CTLA-4 therapy. They were first published Chrysoula I Liakou, Ashish Kamat, Derek Ng Tang, Hong Chen, Jingjing Sun, Patricia Troncoso, Christopher Logothetis, and Padmanee Sharma, ‘CTLA-4 blockade increases IFNgamma-producing CD4+ICOShi T cells to shift the ratio of effector to regulatory T cells in cancer patients’, PNAS USA, 105/39 (Sept 2008), 14987-92.2006-01-01T00:00:00+0000The patent was submitted by Jennifer Doudna, at the University of California Berkeley, and Emmanuell Charpentier, at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany. The application was for a patent to cover the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing in vitro.2012-05-25T00:00:00+0000M Jinek, K Chylinski, I Fonfara, M Hauer, J A Doudna, E Charpentier, 'A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity', Science, 337/6096 (2012): 816-21.2012-08-17T00:00:00+0000Team of scientists led by Kathy Niakan based at Francis Crick Institute in London sought permission from UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to use gene editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas on embryos less than 2 weeks old. Research designed to understand why some women lose their babies before term. 2015-09-18T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Sciences
1897Marie Curie hypothesised that radiation came from the atom and not from the interaction of molecules.Curie 
1897 - 1899Marie Curie devised methods for measuring radioactivityCurie 
1898Marie Curie, together with her husband Pierre, discovered polonium and radium, two new elementsCurie 
April 1898Marie Curie coined the term 'radioactivity'Curie 
1905Nettie Stevens showed that sex is inherited by a chromosomal factor and that males determine the gender of offspringStevensReproduction
1911Marie Curie published the standard for radiumCurie 
1914Marie Curie developed small, mobile x-ray units for the diagnosis of injuries at the battlefront in World War ICurie 
1929Carl and Gerty Cori outlined the body's metabolic pathway to break down some carbohydrates, like glycogen, and synthesise othersCarl Cori, Gerty CoriMetabolism
August 1931Barbara McClintock and Harriet Creighton, her graduate student, provided first experimental proof that genes are positioned on chromosomesMcClintock, CreightonGenetics, DNA
1934Irène Joliot-Curie and Frederic Joliot, her husband, created radioactive nitrogen out of boronJoliot-Curie 
1 Oct 1939Hattie Alexander reported the first successful cure of infant suffering from influenzal meningitis AlexanderAnti-bacterial agents
September 1940First fermentation work on penicillin undertaken in the US to up-scale productionDawson, Hobby, MeyerAnti-bacterial agents
1944Evelyn Witkin discovered radiation resistance in bactieraWitkinGenetics, DNA
1945First three-dimensional structure of a steroid (cholesteryl iodide) publishedHodgkin, CarlisleX ray crystallography
May 1945Structure of penicillin determined using x-ray crystallographyHodgkin, Bunn, Rogers-Low, Turner JonesAnti-bacterial agents
1947Dorothy Hodgkin elected to Royal SocietyHodgkin 
June 1947Hattie E Alexander and Grace Leidy report antibiotics resistance in 10 strains of B hemophilus influenzaeAlexander, LeidyAnti-bacterial agents
1948 - 1950McClintock developed her theory of genetic transpositionMcClintockGenetics
January 1950Esther Lederberg discovered the lambda phageEsther LederbergBacteriophages, Genetics, Recombinant DNA
10 May 1950Hattie E Alexander and Grace Leidy reported success using DNA to alter the hereditary characteristics of Hemophilus influenzaeAlexander, LeidyGenetics
1952First observation of the modification of viruses by bacteriaLuria, HumanRestriction enzymes, Recombinant DNA, DNA Sequencing
January 1952X-ray diffraction image, produced by Rosalind Franklin, shows DNA to have regularly repeating helical structureFranklinDNA
1952Rita Levi-Montalcini announced isolation of nerve-growth factorLevi-MontalciniNeuroscience
1953FDA approved 6-mercaptopurine as treatment for childhood leukaemiaElion, HitchingOncology
April 1953Franklin's x-ray image of DNA publishedFranklinDNA
14 Jul 1956Complete structure of vitamin B12 publishedHodgkin, Kamper, MacKay, Pickworth, Trueblood, WhiteX ray crystallography
16 Apr 1958Rosalind E Franklin diedFranklinDNA
21 Nov 1959Rosalyn Yalow and Soloman Berson published the radioimmunoassay method opening up a new era in immunology and diagnosticsYalow, BersonAntibodies, Diagnostics
16 Dec 1961First successful direct incorporation of functional DNA into a human cellKrausGene therapy
23 Jan 1962Concept of restriction and modification enzymes bornArber, DussoixRestriction enzymes, Recombinant DNA, DNA Sequencing, Epigenetics
September 1962Hattie Alexander and Katherine Sprunt demonstrated that the RNA of the poliovirus can independently infect human cells Alexander, SpruntRNA
1963First report linking a specific virus (herpes simplex virus) to a specific cancer (cervical cancer)SternOncology, Virology
4 Jan 1963May-Britt Moser born in Fosnavag, NorwayMay-Britt MoserNeuroscience
19 Feb 1964Jennifer Doudna born Washington, DC, USADoudna 
May 1964Evelyn Witkin discovered that UV mutagenesis in E. coli could be reversed through dark exposureWitkinDNA
1965First comprehensive protein sequence and structure computer data published as Atlas of Protein Sequence and StructureDayhoff, Ledley, EckDNA Sequencing
August 1966FDA approved allopurinol for goutElion, Hitching 
1967Youyou Tu started working on extraction and isolation of Chinese herbal materials with antimalarial propertiesTu 
March 1968FDA approved azathioprine, an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of kidney transplantsElionTransplantation
November 1970Means developed for cloning B cells that produce single antibodies with known specificityAskonas, Williamson, WrightMonoclonal antibodies
1971First plasmid bacterial cloning vector constructedBerg, Mertz, JacksonRecombinant DNA
December 1971First experiments published demonstrating the use of restriction enzymes to cut DNADanna, NathansRestriction enzymes, Recombinant DNA, DNA Sequencing
1972Youyou Tu and her team isolated and purified artemisinin (qinghaosu)Tu 
November 1972Janet Mertz and Ronald Davis published first easy-to-use technique published for constructing recombinant DNA showed that when DNA is cleaved with EcoRI, a restriction enzyme, it has sticky endsMertz, DavisRecombinant DNA
1973 - 1976Discovery of DNA repair mechanism in bacteria - the SOS responseWitkin, RadmanDNA
January 1975Mertz completed her doctorate MertzRecombinant DNA
1977 - 1978Cytolytic T cells shown to recognise multiple subtypes of viruses, including influenza virusesMcMichael, Ting, Zweerink, AskonasImmunology
1977First method developed for studying gene regulation in a higher organismMertz, Gurdon, De RobertisGenetics
1979First DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus cloned Griffin, LindahlRecombinant DNA, Virology, Cloning
1980Polyoma virus DNA sequencedGriffin, Soeda, Arrand, WalshDNA sequencing
15 Sep 1980Largest nucleic acid sequence database in the world made available free over telephone networkDayhoffDNA Sequencing
December 1980First patient received cochlear implant providing some understanding of speechIngeborg Hochmair, Erwin HochmairElectrical engineering
1981Anti-malarial properties of artemisinin presented to WHO and World Bank meeting in BeijingTu 
10 Jul 1981Complete library of overlapping DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus clonedGriffin, Arrand, Walsh, Bjorck, RymoRecombinant DNA, Oncology, Virology, Cloning
29 Mar 1982FDA approved acyclovir, the first successful antiviral drug, for treating the herpes virusElion, HowardVirology
1984First chimeric monoclonal antibodies developed, laying foundation for safer and more effective monoclonal antibody therapeuticsNeuberger, Rabbitts, Morrison, Oi, Herzenberg, Boulianne, Schulman, HozumiMonoclonal antibodies, Recombinant DNA
December 1984Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn announced the discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that adds extra DNA bases to the ends of chromosomesBlackburn, GreiderDNA
1987 - 1988Mice experiments showed T cells to be double-edged sword in clearing persistent infections with respiratory syncytial virusCannon, Stott, Taylor, Askonas, OpenshawImmunology
October 1989RNA demonstrated to help catalyse the process for synthesising proteinDoudna, Cormack, SzostakRNA
December 1990BRCA1, a single gene on chromosome 17, shown to be responsible for many breast and ovarian cancersKing, Lee, Newman, Morrow, Anderson, HueyGenetics, DNA sequencing
1 Feb 1996Paper published indicating thymus-leukaemia antigen, a cell-surface marker, stimulates T cells to destroy specific target cellsSharmaCancer immunotherapy, Oncology
2 Jan 2000Polyoma virus shown to be potential tool for delivering gene therapyKrauzewicz, Stokrova, Jenkins, Elliott, Higgns, GriffinGene therapy
25 Oct 2001Structure and function of ribosomes deciphered opening up new era for improving antibiotic drugs and designing new onesYonath, Schlunzen, Zarivach, Harms, Basham, Ticilj, Albrecht, FrancheschiAntibactieral agents, RNA, X ray crystallography
13 Dec 2003Sharma discovered some bladder cancer cells expressed the marker NY-ESO-1 providing means for cancer vaccineSharmaCancer immunotherapy, Oncology
1 Jan 2005Discovery of nerve cell that allows the brain to determine spatial position May-Britt Moser, Edvard Moser, O'KeefeNeuroscience
25 Aug 2005Harvard scientists reported reprogramming adult skin cells into embryonic stem cells Cowan, Eggan, Melton, AlienzaStem cells
2006Inducible co-stimulator (ICOS) protein found to enhance anti-CTLA-4 treatment in destruction of cancer cellsSharma, Liakou, Kamat, Ng Tang, Chen, Sun, Troncoso, LogothetisCancer immunotherapy, Immune checkpoint inhibitors
May 2012First patent application submitted for CRISPR-Cas 9 technologyDoudna, CharpentierCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
17 Aug 2012Publication of radically new gene editing method that harnesses the CRISPR-Cas9 system Jinek, Chylinski, Fonfara, Hauer, Doudna, CharpentierCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
18 Sep 2015UK scientists sought license to genetically modify human embryos to study the role played by genes in the first few days of human fertilisationNaikanCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing