The role of women in biotechnology

Often hidden from view, women have played a major role in the development of biotechnology and medicine. Indeed, women have been at the cutting edge of biotechnology, including Rosalind Franklin who played a fundamental role in deciphering the structure of DNA; Esther Lederberg who discovered the lambda phage which is now a major tool for studying gene regulation and genetic recombination; Margaret Dayhoff who developed the field of bioinformatics; Janet Mertz who created the first piece of recombinant DNA; and Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier who helped pioneer CRISPR, a revolutionary technique for genome editing.

Here we provide a number of profiles of women who have been key pioneers in biotechnology. These profiles have been compiled as part of an ongoing project to highlight the many contributions women have made to biotechnology. This is a work in progress and we welcome suggestions for other women to be included.

Some of the leading women in biotechnology

Don't hesitate to contact us if you think of other women who have played an important role in the development of biotechnology and who are not here.

Brigitte Askonas (1923 - 2013)

Born: Vienna, Austria. Askonas co-developed one of the first systems for the cloning of antibody-forming B cells in vivo, some of the earliest monoclonal antibodies. She was also one of the first scientists to isolate and clone virus specific T lymphocytes, laying the foundation for defining different influenza sub-sets and improving vaccines. (Photo credit: Anne-Katrin Purkiss, Wellcome Images B0007461).

Sally Davies (1949)

Born: Birmingham, United Kingdom. Sally Davies was named the sixth most powerful woman in the UK by Woman’s Hour, a BBC radio programme, in 2013. She is the first woman to hold the post of Chief Medical Officer for England. In 2006 she set up the National Institute for Health Research, a body that has revolutionised the approach to clinical and applied research in the UK. She is also at the forefront of spearheading efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance around the world. All this she has achieved in the midst of dealing with a likely variant of dyslexia, being widowed young and becoming a mother in her forties. Much of her career has been shaped by serendipity and her strong desire to make the world a better place.

Margaret Dayhoff (1925 - 1983)

Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Dayhoff is known as the founder of bioinformatics. This she did by pioneering the application of mathematics and computational techniques to the sequencing of proteins and nucleic acids and establishing the first publicly available database for research in the area. (Photo credit: Ruth E Dayhoff, National Library of Medicine).

Jennifer Doudna (1964)

Born: Washington DC, United States. Doudna first made her name uncovering the basic structure and function of the first ribozyme, a type of catalytic ribonucleic acid (RNA) that helps catalyse chemical reactions. This work helped lay the foundation for her later helping to pioneer CRISPR-Cas 9, a tool that has provided the means to edit genes on an unprecedented scale and at minimal cost. In addition to her scientific contributions to CRISPR, Doudna is known for spearheading the public debate to consider the ethical implications of using CRISPR-Cas9 to edit human embryos.

Rosalind Franklin (1920 - 1958)

Born: London, United Kingdom. Rosalind Franklin was an x-ray crystallographer whose work helped uncover the double-helix structure of DNA. (Photo credit: Vittorio Luzzati).

Carolyn Green (1965 - 2017)

Born: Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Carolyn E Green was a serial entrepreneur in the life sciences community and a leading voice for women in the sector. In her short life she managed to found and head up numerous companies and held many leadership and sales positions in the biopharmaceutical industry. Her crowning achievement was to be hired by Pfizer to head up its new strategic research and development investments initiative. This entailed working with the corporation’s venture fund to establish partnerships with early-stage companies. Green’s enduring patience and strong mentoring skills, together with her passion to develop products to help patients, set her apart from many others in the biotechnology world.

Beverly Griffin (1930 - 2016)

Born: Delhi, Louisiana. Griffin earned two doctorates in chemistry in an era when it was rare for women to pursue a scientific career. She is best known for her pioneering work on the molecular biology of two viruses that cause cancer - the polyomavirus and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). From the 1980s she was devoted to understanding how in one setting EBV could cause glandular fever, a largely harmless disease, and yet in another Burkitt's Lymphoma, a major killer of children in Central Africa. She also spearheaded efforts to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the cancer and was a tireless campaigner for raising awareness of the plight of children with the disease in Africa. (Photo credit: Tomas Lindahl).

Esther Lederberg (1922 - 2006)

Born: Bronx, New York, United States. Esther Lederberg was a major pioneer of bacterial genetics. She discovered the lambda phage, a bacterial virus which is widely used as a tool to study gene regulation and genetic recombination. She also invented the replica plating technique, which is used to isolate and analyse bacterial mutants and track antibiotic resistance. (Photo credit: The Esther Lederberg Memorial Trust).

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 - 2012)

Born: Turin, Italy. An Italian scientist, Rita Levi-Montalcini helped discover the chemical tools the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerves. This knowledge underpins current investigation into how these processes go wrong in diseases like dementia and cancer. (Photo credit: Bernard Becker Medical Library).

Janet Mertz (1949)

Born: The Bronx, New York, USA. Mertz was pivotal to the discovery of the first enzyme for easily joining together DNA from different species and designing the protocol that underpinned the development of the first recombinant DNA cloned in bacteria. Her work not only helped lay the foundation for the development of genetic engineering, but also spurred on the establishment of the first safety guidelines for laboratories involved in genetic manipulation. She has also made key contributions to our understanding about how the human tumour viruses SV40, hepatitis B virus, and Epstein-Barr virus regulate expression of their genes and identified roles oestrogen-related receptors play in breast cancer and responses to therapies. (Photo credit: Janet Mertz).

Christiane Nusslein-Volhard (1942)

Born: Magdeburg, Germany. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard won the Nobel Prize in 1995, the sixth woman to do so. She was awarded the Prize on the basis of her groundbreaking research that showed how genes regulate the early development of fruit fly embryos. Her discoveries helped create the new discipline of developmental genetics and laid the foundation for understanding genetic defects in human embryos.

Padmanee Sharma (1970)

Born: Georgetown, Guyana. Padmanee Sharma is a leading figure in oncology, specialising in renal, bladder and prostate cancer. Her prime focus is to understand the mechanisms and pathways within the immune system responsible for tumour rejection. Since 2005 she has been a principal investigator for several clinical trials launched to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies. Driven by the desperation of her cancer patients, much of Sharma’s high-flying career is down to the strong determination she developed to overcome the poverty and hardships she faced as the child of Indo-Guyanese immigrants who settled in New York when she was 10 years old.

Rosemary Versteegen (1948)

Born: Glasgow, Scotland. Rosemary J Versteegen worked for over twenty years with Life Technologies Inc, which in the 1990s was one of largest suppliers of culture cell products and other scientific reagents to the biotechnology industry. She was pivotal to the company’s success in winning FDA approval for the first diagnostic test using synthetic nucleic acid probes for detecting infection with the human papillomavirus, one of the most common causes of cervical cancer. In addition, Versteegen is one of the co-founders and the Chief Executive Officer of the International Serum Industry Association, an organisation that works to promote standards of excellence and ethics in the animal serum and animal derived products industry.

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi (1947)

Born: Paris, France. Barre-Sinoussi shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping to identify the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS in 1983. Over the years she has made substantial contributions to understanding the role of innate immune defences in the host in controlling HIV/AIDS and how HIV is transmitted between the mother and child. She has also studied the characteristics that allow some HIV-positive individuals gain resistance to HIV without antiretrioviral drugs. (Photo credit: Karolinska Institute, Press conference, 2008).

Elizabeth Blackburn (1948)

Born: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Blackburn is a molecular biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009. She is best known for having discovered a particular repetative sequence of DNA on the telomere, a particular region found at the end of a chromosome that prevents the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. She also helped identify telomerase, an enzyme that helps replenish telomeres which get shorter every time a cell divides. Such shortening is associated with aging and cancer. (Photo credit: Chemical Heritage Foundation).

Gertrude Elion (1918 - 1999)

Born: New York City, United States. Elion shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her contributions to the development of a multitude of new drugs. This included drugs for herpes, leukemia, malaria, gout, immune disorders, and AIDS, and immune suppressants to overcome rejection of donated organs in transplant surgery. Her work earned 45 patents. (Photo credit: Wellcome Images).

Carol Greider (1961)

Born: San Diego, California, United States. Greider shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for helping to elucidate the structure of telomeres, a particular region found at the end of a chromosome that prevents the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, and to identify telomerase, an enzyme that helps replenish telomeres which get shorter every time a cell divides. Such shortening is associated with aging and cancer. She also collaborated in the development of the first telomerase knockout mouse which helped demonstrate how premature aging is linked to increasingly short telomeres. (Photo credit: Keith Weller).

Ingeborg Hochmair-Desoyer (1953)

Born: Vienna, Austria. Hochmair-Desoyer is an electrical engineer who helped create the world's first micro-electric multi-channel cochlear implant. Developed in 1977 the implant enables the user to not only hear sounds but also to understand speech. Since 2000 she has co-founded a number of medical device companies working to help with hearing loss. In 2013 she was awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. (Photo credit: Ingeborg J Hochmair-Desoyer).

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 - 1994)

Born: Cairo, Egypt. Dorothy Hodgkin, was a British biochemist who developed protein crystallography and X-ray crystallography which was used to confirm the structure of penicillin, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. (Photo credit: Peter Lofts Photography, National Portrait Gallery, London Peter Lofts Photography, National Portrait Gallery, London ).

Mary-Claire King (1946)

Born: Illinois, United States. King is a human geneticist who studies the interplay between genetics and the environment on human disease. She is best known for having identified BRCA1, a single gene responsible for many breast and ovarian cancers. Her technique for identifying the BRCA1 gene is now used for studying many other diseases. She was also responsible for the development of a technique, using mitrochondial DNA and human leukocyte antigen, for genetically identifying the remains of missing people. (Photo credit: Mary-Claire King).

Barbara McClintock (1902 - 1992)

Born: Hartford, Connecticut, United States. Through her work on maize, McClintock demonstrated the ability of genes to change position on the chromosome. (Photo credit: American Philosophical Society).

Sherie Morrison

Born: United States. A key pioneer in the development of antibody engineering techniques, Morrison helped develop some of the first chimeric monoclonal antibodies. This work paved the way to the creation of safer and more effective monoclonal antibody drugs. (Photo credit: Sherie Morrison).

May-Britt Moser (1963)

Born: Fosnavag, Norway. Moser shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping to discover cells located in the centre of the brain that are important for determining spacial position. Her work has helped scientists gain new understanding into the cognitive processes and spacial deficits linked to neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease. (Photo credit: NBC News).

Evelyn Witkin (1921)

Born: New York City, United States. Witkin is an American geneticist who 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 and in 2002 was awarded the National Medal of Science. (Photo credit: YouTube).

Rosalyn Yalow (1921 - 2011)

Born: New York City, United States. The second American woman to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, Yalow is best known for having co-developed a diagnostic technique, known as a radioimmunoassay, for measuring tiny quantities of various biological samples in blood and other bodily fluids. The test's primary detection mechanism is an antibody combined with a radioisotope. First devised for determining insulin levels in diabetes patients, the technique is now used for hundreds of other substances previously difficult to detect because they were too small. Among the substances it can quantify are hormones, vitamins, enzymes. It is also used to measure the effectiveness of dose levels of antibiotics and other drugs. (Photo credit: US Information Agency).

Tu Youyou (1930)

Born: Zhejiang, China. Tu Youyou is a Chinese chemist who discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria. YouYou received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with William Campbell and Satoshi Omura. Youyou is the first Chinese Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and the first female citizen of the People's Republic of China to receive a Nobel Prize in any category. (Photo credit: Bengt Nyman).

Women in biotechnology: timeline of key events

JA Doudna, BP Cormack, JW Szostak, 'RNA Structure, Not Sequence, Determines the 5? Splice-Site Specificity of a Group I Intron', PNAS, 86/19 (1989), 7402-06.2018-09-18T13:40:52+0000Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from a medical school in US (Geneva Medical College, New York). In 1857 she set up the New York Dispensary for Indigent Women and Children. A year later she became the first woman registered on UK Medical Register. Blackwell was an ardent promoter of women's education in medicine. In 1874 she helped set up the London School of Medicine for Women which prepared women to take the licensing exam of the Apothecaries Hall. For Blackwell, medicine was a means for social and moral reform. Between 1880 and 1895 she became involved in a number of reform movements, including moral reform, sexual purity, hygiene, Eugenics, medical ethics, and women's rights. 1821-02-03T00:00:00+0000Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, in 1903, and the first person to win it twice, in 1911. She developed techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered the two elements, polonium and radium. Curie also pioneered the use of radioactive isotopes to treat cancer and developed mobile radiography mobile unites to provide X-ray services in field hospitals during World War I. Throughout her life Curie experienced major challenges because of her sex. Denied a regular university education in Poland, her home country, because she was a woman, she had to study in France to get her degree. In 1903 the French Academy of Sciences tried to keep her name off its list of Nobel Prize nominees and the Swedish Academy of Sciences asked her not to attend the Nobel ceremony in 1911 because of negative publicity surrounding her personal life.1867-11-07T00:00:00+0000Curie'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+0000Alexander was a paediatrician and microbiologist. In the 1940s she developed the first effective treatment against Haemophilus influenzae (Hib), a major killer of infants. Her treatment helped reduced mortality from the disease from nearly 100 per cent to less than 25 per cent. It involved the combination of antiserum therapy with sulfa drugs. Alexander was also one of the first scientists to identify and study antibiotics resistance, which emerged out of her search for antibiotics to treat Hib. She worked out that the resistance was due to random genetic mutations in DNA that were positively selected through evolution. 1901-04-05T00:00:00+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+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+0000Levi-Montalcini is best known for sharing the Nobel Prize in 1986 for helping to discover and isolate the nerve growth factor which helps regulate the growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certian neurons. Banned by Mussolini from working in academia because she was Jewish, Levi-Montalcini conducted much of her early work in a makeshift laboratory in her bedroom. She later became the director of the Research Center of Neurobiology and the Laboratory of Cellular Biology in Washington University and founded the European Brain Research Institute. 1909-04-22T00:00:00+0000Dorothy Hodgkin, was a British chemist who pioneered protein crystallography, a technique the uses x-ray crystallography to determine the three dimensional structure of protein crystals. She used the technique to confirm the structure of penicillin, in 1945, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. Hodgkin was the third woman to win the Nobel Prize. In addition to penicillin, Hodgkin published the first structure of a steroid and deciphered the structure of vitamin B12 and insulin. Her protein crystallography technique is now an essential tool for research into structural biology.1910-05-10T00:00:00+0000Born in Britain, Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from a medical school in US (Geneva Medical College, New York). In 1857 she set up the New York Dispensary for Indigent Women and Children. A year later she became the first woman registered on UK Medical Register. Blackwell was an ardent promoter of women's education in medicine. In 1874 she helped set up the London School of Medicine for Women which prepared women to take the licensing exam of the Apothecaries Hall. Blackwell saw medicine as a tool for social and moral reform. Between 1880 and 1895 she was involved in a number of reform movements, including moral reform, sexual purity, hygiene, Eugenics, medical ethics, and women's rights. 1910-05-31T00:00:00+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+0000Stern was the first to describe how a healthy cell changes into a cancerous cell. Her work helped transform cervical cancer into an easily diagnosed and treatable condition. She also demonstrated the links between the herpes simplex virus and cervical cancer and between cervical cancer and the oral contraceptive pill.1915-09-19T00:00:00+0000Chatterjee is renowned for her breakthroughs in the development of anti-malarial and anti-epileptic drugs. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate in science from an Indian university - Calcutta University.1917-09-23T00:00:00+0000Elion was a biochemist and pharmacologist renowned for developing new methods to design drugs that took advantage of the biochemical differences between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents). The aim was to create a drug capable of killing or inhibiting the reproduction of pathogens without harming healthy cells. Elion helped develop a number of drugs for a variety of diseases, including leukaemia and malaria. One of her most notable achievements was the creation of the first immunosuppressive drug for organ transplant patients. In 1988 she was joined awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 'discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.'1918-01-23T00:00:00+0000Saruhashi is renowned for being the first scientist to demonstrate the dangers of radioactive fallout in seawater that resulted from nuclear bomb testing in 1954. Her evidence was later used to prevent further nuclear testing by governments. Despite her achievement, she suffered discrimination as a woman scientist. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1957. Convinced that technical expertise was the key to women's independence she established the Society of Japanese Scientists in 1958 to promote women in science. 1920-03-22T00:00:00+0000Franklin was a biophysicist. She is best known for having taken photo 51, in 1952, which provided the first evidence of the double helix structure of DNA. She took the photo using x-ray crystallography. Data from the photo was pivotal to Crick and Watson's building of their DNA double helical structure of DNA FOR which they won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Sadly Franklin died too early to receive the Nobel Prize for her work.1920-07-25T00:00:00+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+0000Yalow was a medical physicist who made her name by helping to develop the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique. RIA uses two reagents. One is a radioisotope atom bound to a molecule of the target substance and the other is an antibody that will bind to the target substance when the two are in contact. Measurements are taken of the initial radioactivity of the mixture which is then added to a measured quantity of fluid, such as blood, that contains low concentrations of an unknown target substance. The test takes advantage of the fact that antibodies prefer to attach to non-radioactive molecules. Measurements are taken of the reduction in radioactivity of the antibody reagent to calculate the concentration of the target substance. The RIA method is now an important component in diagnostic tests, being used to measure the concentration of hormones, vitamins, viruses, enzymes, drugs and other substances. The technique transformed the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and other hormonal problems related to growth, thyroid function and fertility. It is used to test for phenylketonuria in newborn babies, a rare inherited disorder that if left untreated can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, behavioral problems and mental disorder. In 1977 Yalow became the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize. It was awarded on the basis of her RIA work. 1921-07-19T00:00:00+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+0000Askonas co-developed one of the first systems for the cloning of antibody-forming B cells in vivo, some of the earliest monoclonal antibodies. She was also one of the first scientists to isolate and clone virus specific T lymphocytes, laying the foundation for defining different influenza sub-sets and improving vaccines. 1923-04-01T00:00:00+0000Dayhoff is known as the founder of bioinformatics. This she did by pioneering the application of mathematics and computational techniques to the sequencing of proteins and nucleic acids and establishing the first publicly available database for research in the area. 1925-03-11T00:00:00+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+0000Griffin was a leading expert on viruses that cause cancer. She was the first woman appointed to Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital. In 1980 she completed the sequence of the poliovirus, the longest piece of eukaryotic DNA to be sequenced at that time. She devoted her life to understanding the Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of Burkitt's Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer.1930-01-23T00:00:00+0000Tu discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria for which she received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She is the first female citizen of the People's Republic of China to receive a Nobel Prize.1930-12-30T00:00:00+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+0000Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, in 1903, and the first person to win it twice, in 1911. She developed techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered the two elements, polonium and radium. Curie also pioneered the use of radioactive isotopes to treat cancer and developed mobile radiography mobile unites to provide X-ray services in field hospitals during World War I. Throughout her life Curie experienced major challenges because of her sex. Denied a regular university education in Poland, her home country, because she was a woman, she had to study in France to get her degree. In 1903 the French Academy of Sciences tried to keep her name off its list of Nobel Prize nominees and the Swedish Academy of Sciences asked her not to attend the Nobel ceremony in 1911 because of negative publicity surrounding her personal life.1934-07-04T00:00:00+0000Yonath is a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 for helping to map the structure of ribosomes, the molecule that helps translate RNA into protein. She started the research in the 1970s using x-ray crystallography. By 2001 she had worked out the complete high-resolution of structures of both ribosomal subunits and discovered a region important to the process of polypeptide polymerisation. In addition to this work Yonath had elucidated the modes of action of over 20 different antibiotics that target the ribsome, which has provided insights into the mechanisms of drug resistance and antibiotic sensitivity. 1939-06-22T00:00:00+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+0000King is a human geneticist who studies the interplay between genetics and the environment on human disease. She is best known for having identified BRCA1, a single gene responsible for many breast and ovarian cancers. Her technique for identifying the BRCA1 gene is now used for studying many other diseases. She was also responsible for the development of a technique, using mitrochondial DNA and human leucocyte antigen, for genetically identifying the remains of missing people. 1946-02-27T00:00:00+00001947-01-01T00:00:00+0000H E Alexander, G Leidy, 'Mode of action of streptomycin on type B H. Influenzae', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 85/4 (1985), 329-38.1947-04-01T00:00:00+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+0000Barré-Sinoussi is a virologist who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for her contributions to identifying the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. She carried out this work in the 1980s at the Pasteur Institute as part of her research into retroviruses. Barré-Sinoussi has been at the forefront of efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV and a cure for the disease. Serving as the president of the International AIDS Society between 2012 and 2016 and working with WHO, Barré-Sinoussi has collaborated closely with scientists from many resource-limited various countries in Africa and Asia. 1947-07-30T00:00:00+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+0000Davies is the first woman to take on the role of Chief Medical Officer of England in the 165 years of its the position's history.1949-11-24T00:00:00+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+0000Hochmair-Desoyer is an electrical engineer who helped create the world's first micro-electric multi-channel cochlear implant. Developed in 1977 the implant enables the user to not only hear sounds but also to understand speech. Since 2000 she has co-founded a number of medical device companies working to help with hearing loss. In 2013 she was awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. 1953-01-01T00:00:00+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+0000Building on the work of her parents, Marie and Pierre Curie, Irène Joliot-Curie managed to produce radioactive nitrogen from boron, radioactive isotopes of phosphorus from aluminium, and silicon from magnesium. The facilitated the application of radioactive materials for use in medicine. In 1935 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for her work on radioactive isotopes which today form the basis of much biomedical research and cancer treatment today. 1956-03-17T00:00:00+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+0000Gerty Cori, nee Radnitz, was the third woman to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine and the first woman in America to do so. She shared the prize in 1947 with her husband Cari Cori, for discovering how the body metabolises glycogen, which is important to how the body stores energy. Born into a Jewish Czech family, Cori studied medicine at the Karl-Ferdinands-Universität in Prague, an unusual path for a woman at the time. Throughout her career Cori experienced difficulties because she was a woman. In 1921 she was threatened with dismissal by the director of Roswell Park Cancer Institute if she continued her collaborative research with her husband, Later she struggled to be appointed full-professor at Washington University St Louuis, a position she gained only months before she won the Nobel Prize.1957-10-26T00:00:00+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+0000Greider is best known for her discovery of telomerase, an enzyme made up of protein and RNA subunits that help elongate and protect chromosomes. The enzyme is found in fetal tissues, adult germ cells and also tumour cells. Greider made the discovery in 1984 when she was a graduate student of Elizabeth Blackburn. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2009 on the back of this work. 1961-04-15T00:00:00+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+0000Alexander was an American paediatrician and microbiologist. In the 1940s she developed the first effective treatment against Haemophilus influenzae (Hib), a major killer of infants. Her treatment helped reduced mortality from the disease from nearly 100 per cent to less than 25 per cent. It involved the combination of antiserum therapy with sulfa drugs. Alexander was also one of the first scientists to identify and study antibiotics resistance, which emerged out of her search for antibiotics to treat Hib. She worked out that the resistance was due to random genetic mutations in DNA that were positively selected through evolution.1968-06-24T00:00:00+0000Sharma is a leading figure in the field of cancer immunology. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms and pathways within the immune system that are responsible for tumour rejection so as to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies. She was the first to show the importance of the inducible co-stimulator (ICOS) protein in the destruction of cancer cells. 1970-06-26T00:00:00+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+0000Robert Pollack contacted Paul Berg to raise concerns about the potential biohazards of experiments Mertz, his doctoral research student, planned to do involving the introduction of genes from the oncovirus SV40 in the human gut bacteria, E. Coli. Following this Berg self-imposed a moratorium on experiments in his laboratory involving the cloning of SV40 in E-Coli.1971-06-01T00:00:00+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+00001972-01-01T00:00:00+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+00001973-01-01T00:00:00+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+0000The identity of the blood stem cell, especially that in the human, and even its existence remains the subject of debate because the cell is difficult to isolate. Those involved in the debate include the Manchester group (Dexter, Lord) and American groups (Weissmann and Morrison). Part of the problem is that techniques for studying the human blood stem cell lagged behind that of animal models. 1980-01-01T00:00:00+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+0000Stern, a Canadian born pathologist, was the first to describe how a healthy cell changes into a cancerous cell. Her work helped transform cervical cancer into an easily diagnosed and treatable condition. She also demonstrated the links between the herpes simplex virus and cervical cancer and between cervical cancer and the oral contraceptive pill.1980-08-18T00:00:00+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+0000Dayhoff is known as the founder of bioinformatics. This she did by pioneering the application of mathematics and computational techniques to the sequencing of proteins and nucleic acids and establishing the first publicly available database for research in the area. 1983-02-05T00:00:00+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+00001988-01-01T00:00:00+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+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.1992-09-02T00:00:00+0000Hobby was an American microbiologist whose work was pivotal to scaling up the production of penicillin in World War II and the development of other antibiotics. She first became involved in work on nonpathogenic organisms when doing her doctorate at Columbia University in 1935. From 1934 to 1943 Hobby worked for Presbyterian Hospital and the Columbia Medical School. Thereafter she went to work for Pfizer Pharamceuticals in New York where she conducted research on streptomycin and other antibiotics. She founded the monthly publication Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in 1972 and published Penicillin: Meeting the Challenge in 1985. 1993-07-04T00:00:00+0000Dorothy Hodgkin, was a British chemist who pioneered protein crystallography, a technique the uses x-ray crystallography to determine the three dimensional structure of protein crystals. She used the technique to confirm the structure of penicillin, in 1945, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. Hodgkin was the third woman to win the Nobel Prize. In addition to penicillin, Hodgkin published the first structure of a steroid and deciphered the structure of vitamin B12 and insulin. Her protein crystallography technique is now an essential tool for research into structural biology.1994-07-29T00:00:00+0000The belief that adult stem cells, especially the blood stem cell, can give rise to cells such as brain, liver and cardiac gives rise to notion that adult stem cells could be used like embryonic counterparts for regenerative therapies, helping in degenerative diseases of the brain and heart. This marks a paradigm shift as it goes against dogma from decades of research and clinical success with the blood stem cell. 1996-01-01T00:00:00+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+0000Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist renowned for developing new methods to design drugs that made took advantage of the biochemical differences between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents). The aim was to create a drug capable of killing or inhibiting the reproduction of pathogens without harming healthy cells. Elion helped develop a number of drugs for a variety of diseases, including leukaemia and malaria. One of her most notable achievements was the creation of the first immunosuppressive drug for organ transplant patients. In 1988 she was joined awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 'discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.'1999-02-21T00:00:00+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+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. 2006-11-11T00:00:00+0000Chatterjee is renowned for her breakthroughs in the development of anti-malarial and anti-epileptic drugs. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate in science from an Indian university - Calcutta University.2006-11-22T00:00:00+0000Saruhashi is renowned for being the first scientist to demonstrate the dangers of radioactive fallout in seawater that resulted from nuclear bomb testing in 1954. Her evidence was later used to prevent further nuclear testing by governments. Despite her achievement, she suffered discrimination as a woman scientist. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1957. Convinced that technical expertise was the key to women's independence she established the Society of Japanese Scientists in 1958 to promote women in science.2007-09-29T00:00:00+0000Yalow was an American medical physicist who made her name by helping to develop the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique. RIA uses two reagents. One is a radioisotope atom bound to a molecule of the target substance and the other is an antibody that will bind to the target substance when the two are in contact. Measurements are taken of the initial radioactivity of the mixture which is then added to a measured quantity of fluid, such as blood, that contains low concentrations of an unknown target substance. The test takes advantage of the fact that antibodies prefer to attach to non-radioactive molecules. Measurements are taken of the reduction in radioactivity of the antibody reagent to calculate the concentration of the target substance. The RIA method is now an important component in diagnostic tests, being used to measure the concentration of hormones, vitamins, viruses, enzymes, drugs and other substances. The technique transformed the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and other hormonal problems related to growth, thyroid function and fertility. It is used to test for phenylketonuria in newborn babies, a rare inherited disorder that if left untreated can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, behavioral problems and mental disorder. In 1977 Yalow became the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize. It was awarded on the basis of her RIA work. 2011-05-30T00:00:00+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+0000Levi-Montalcini is best known for sharing the Nobel Prize in 1986 for helping to discover and isolate the nerve growth factor which helps regulate the growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certian neurons. Banned by Mussolini from working in academia because she was Jewish, Levi-Montalcini conducted much of her early work in a makeshift laboratory in her bedroom. She later became the director of the Research Center of Neurobiology and the Laboratory of Cellular Biology in Washington University and founded the European Brain Research Institute. 2012-12-30T00:00:00+0000Askonas co-developed one of the first systems for the cloning of antibody-forming B cells in vivo, some of the earliest monoclonal antibodies. She was also one of the first scientists to isolate and clone virus specific T lymphocytes, laying the foundation for defining different influenza sub-sets and improving vaccines. 2013-01-09T00:00:00+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+00002015-10-05T00:00:00+0000Griffin was a leading expert on viruses that cause cancer. She was the first woman appointed to Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital. In 1980 she completed the sequence of the poliovirus, the longest piece of eukaryotic DNA to be sequenced at that time. She devoted her life to understanding the Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of Burkitt's Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer. 2016-06-13T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
18 Sep 2018RNA demonstrated to help catalyse the process for synthesising proteinDoudna, Cormack, SzostakHarvard University
3 Feb 1821Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, EnglandBlackwell 
7 Nov 1867Marie Curie, nee Sklodowska, born in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)CurieWarsaw
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 
5 Apr 1901Hattie Elizabeth Alexander was born in New York City, USAAlexanderColumbia University
16 Jun 1902Barbara McClintock was born in Hartford CT, USAMcClintockUniversity of Missouri
1905Nettie Stevens showed that sex is inherited by a chromosomal factor and that males determine the gender of offspringStevens 
22 Apr 1909Rita Levi-Montalcini was born in Turin, ItalyLevi-MontalciniWashington University
10 May 1910Dorothy M Crowfoot Hodgkin was born in Cairo, EgyptHodgkinCairo, Egypt
31 May 1910Elizabeth Blackwell diedBlackwell 
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 
19 Sep 1915Elizabeth Stern was born in Cobalt, Ontario, CanadaSternUniversity of California at Los Angeles
23 Sep 1917Asima Chatterjee was born in Bengal, IndiaChatterjeeUniversity of Calcutta
23 Jan 1918Gertrude B Elion was born in New York NY, USAElionWellcome Research Laboratories
22 Mar 1920Katsuko Saruhashi was born in Tokyo, JapanSaruhashi 
25 Jul 1920Rosalind E Franklin was born in London, United KingdomFranklinKings College London
9 Mar 1921Evelyn Witkin was born in New York City, USAWitkinNew York City
19 Jul 1921Rosalyn Yalow was born in New York, USAYalowVeterans Administration Hospital
18 Dec 1922Esther Lederberg was born in Bronx, New York, USAEsther LederbergWisconsin University
1 Apr 1923Brigitte Askonas was born in Vienna, AustriaAskonasVienna
11 Mar 1925Margaret Dayhoff was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USADayhoffPhiladelphia
1929Carl and Gerty Cori outlined the body's metabolic pathway to break down some carbohydrates, like glycogen, and synthesise othersCarl Cori, Gerty CoriRoswell Park Cancer Institute
23 Jan 1930Beverly Griffin was born in Delhi, Louisiana, USAGriffinImperial College
30 Dec 1930Youyou Tu was born in Zhejiang, ChinaYouyouZhejiang
August 1931Barbara McClintock and Harriet Creighton, her graduate student, provided first experimental proof that genes are positioned on chromosomesMcClintock, CreightonCornell University
1934Irène Joliot-Curie and Frederic Joliot, her husband, created radioactive nitrogen out of boronJoliot-Curie 
4 Jul 1934Marie Curie diedCurieUniversity of Paris, Radium Institute
22 Jun 1939Ada E Yonath was born in Jerusalem, Palestine (now Israel)YonathWeizmann Institute
1 Oct 1939Hattie Alexander reported the first successful cure of infant suffering from influenzal meningitis AlexanderColumbia University
September 1940First fermentation work on penicillin undertaken in the US to up-scale productionDawson, Hobby, MeyerColumbia University
1944Evelyn Witkin discovered radiation resistance in bactieraWitkinCold Spring Harbor Laboratory
1945First three-dimensional structure of a steroid (cholesteryl iodide) publishedHodgkin, CarlisleOxford University
May 1945Structure of penicillin determined using x-ray crystallographyHodgkin, Bunn, Rogers-Low, Turner JonesOxford University
27 Feb 1946Mary-Claire King was born in Illinois, USAKingIllinois
1947Dorothy Hodgkin elected to Royal SocietyHodgkin 
1 Apr 1947Hattie Alexander and Grace Leidy report antimicrobial resistance in patients treated with streptomycin for H. InfluenzaeAlexander, LeidyColumbia University
June 1947Hattie E Alexander and Grace Leidy report antibiotics resistance in 10 strains of B hemophilus influenzaeAlexander, LeidyColumbia University
30 Jul 1947Francoise Barré-Sinoussi born in Paris, FranceBarre-SinoussiPasteur Institute
1948 - 1950McClintock developed her theory of genetic transpositionMcClintockCold Spring Harbor Laboratory
24 Nov 1949Sally Davies bornDavies 
January 1950Esther Lederberg discovered the lambda phageEsther LederbergUniversity of Wisconsin
10 May 1950Hattie E Alexander and Grace Leidy reported success using DNA to alter the hereditary characteristics of Hemophilus influenzaeAlexander, LeidyColumbia University
1952First observation of the modification of viruses by bacteriaLuria, HumanUniversity of Illinois
January 1952X-ray diffraction image, produced by Rosalind Franklin, shows DNA to have regularly repeating helical structureFranklinKings College London
1952Rita Levi-Montalcini announced isolation of nerve-growth factorLevi-MontalciniWashington University in St. Louis
1 Jan 1953Ingeborg Hochmair-Desoyer was born in Vienna, AustriaHochmair-DesoyerVienna, Austria
1953FDA approved 6-mercaptopurine as treatment for childhood leukaemiaElion, HitchingWellcome Research Laboratories
April 1953Franklin's x-ray image of DNA publishedFranklinKings College London
17 Mar 1956Irène Joliot-Curie diedJoliot-Curie 
14 Jul 1956Complete structure of vitamin B12 publishedHodgkin, Kamper, MacKay, Pickworth, Trueblood, WhiteOxford University
26 Oct 1957Gerty Theresa Cori diedG CoriWashington University in St Louis
16 Apr 1958Rosalind E Franklin diedFranklinKings College London
21 Nov 1959Rosalyn Yalow and Soloman Berson published the radioimmunoassay method opening up a new era in immunology and diagnosticsYalow, BersonVeterans Administration Hospital
15 Apr 1961Carol W Greider was born in San Diego CA, USAGreiderJohns Hopkins University
16 Dec 1961First successful direct incorporation of functional DNA in human cellKrausUniversity of Tennessee
23 Jan 1962Concept of restriction and modification enzymes bornArber, DussoixUniversity of Geneva
September 1962Hattie Alexander and Katherine Sprunt demonstrated that the RNA of the poliovirus can independently infect human cells Alexander, SpruntColumbia University
1963First report linking a specific virus (herpes simplex virus) to a specific cancer (cervical cancer)SternUniversity of California, Los Angeles
4 Jan 1963May-Britt Moser born in Fosnavag, NorwayMay-Britt MoserNorwegian University of Science and Technology
19 Feb 1964Jennifer Doudna born Washington, DC, USADoudna 
May 1964Evelyn Witkin discovered that UV mutagenesis in E. coli could be reversed through dark exposureWitkinCold Spring Harbor Laboratory
1965First comprehensive protein sequence and structure computer data published as Atlas of Protein Sequence and StructureDayhoff, Ledley, EckNational Biomedical Research Foundation, Georgetown University
August 1966FDA approved allopurinol for goutElion, HitchingWellcome Research Laboratories
1967Youyou Tu started working on extraction and isolation of Chinese herbal materials with antimalarial propertiesTuChina Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences
March 1968FDA approved azathioprine, an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of kidney transplantsElionWellcome Research Laboratories
24 Jun 1968Hattie Elizabeth Alexander diedAlexanderColumbia University
26 Jun 1970Padmanee Sharma born in Gerogetown, GuyanaSharmaMD Anderson Cancer Center
November 1970Means developed for cloning B cells that produce single antibodies with known specificityAskonas, Williamson, WrightNational Institute for Medical Research
1971First plasmid bacterial cloning vector constructedBerg, Mertz, JacksonStanford University
June 1971Janet Mertz forced to halt experiment to clone recombinant DNA in bacteria after safety concerns raisedMertz, Berg, PollackStanford University
December 1971First experiments published demonstrating the use of restriction enzymes to cut DNADanna, NathansJohns Hopkins University
1972Beverly Griffin appointed head of nuclear acids research at Imperial Cancer Research FundGriffinImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories
1972Youyou Tu and her team isolated and purified artemisinin (qinghaosu)TuChina Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences
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, DavisStanford University
1973Brigette Askonas elected Fellow of the Royal SocietyAskonas 
1973 - 1976Discovery of DNA repair mechanism in bacteria - the SOS responseWitkin, RadmanCold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Free University of Brussels
January 1975Mertz completed her doctorate MertzStanford University
1977 - 1978Cytolytic T cells shown to recognise multiple subtypes of viruses, including influenza virusesMcMichael, Ting, Zweerink, AskonasNational Institute for Medical Research
1977First method developed for studying gene regulation in a higher organismMertz, Gurdon, De RobertisLaboratory of Molecular Biology
1979First DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus cloned Griffin, LindahlImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, University of Gothenberg
1980 - 1990Existence of the blood stem cell contestedDexter, Lord, Weissmann, Morrison
1980Polyoma virus DNA sequencedGriffin, Soeda, Arrand, WalshImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories
18 Aug 1980Elizabeth Stern diedSternUniversity of California at Los Angeles
15 Sep 1980Largest nucleic acid sequence database in the world made available free over telephone networkDayhoffNational Biomedical Research Foundation, Georgetown University
December 1980First patient received cochlear implant providing some understanding of speechIngeborg Hochmair, Erwin HochmairMED-EL
1981Anti-malarial properties of artemisinin presented to WHO and World Bank meeting in BeijingTuChina Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences
10 Jul 1981Complete library of overlapping DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus clonedGriffin, Arrand, Walsh, Bjorck, RymoImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, University of Gothenberg
29 Mar 1982FDA approved acyclovir, the first successful antiviral drug, for treating the herpes virusElion, HowardWellcome Research Laboratories
5 Feb 1983Margaret Dayhoff died in Silver Spring, Maryland, USADayhoffSilver Spring, Maryland
1984First chimeric monoclonal antibodies developed, laying foundation for safer and more effective monoclonal antibody therapeuticsNeuberger, Rabbitts, Morrison, Oi, Herzenberg, Boulianne, Schulman, HozumiLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Stanford Univerity Medical School
December 1984Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn announced the discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that adds extra DNA bases to the ends of chromosomesBlackburn, GreiderUniversity of California Berkeley
1987 - 1988Mice experiments showed T cells to be double-edged sword in clearing persistent infections with respiratory syncytial virusCannon, Stott, Taylor, Askonas, OpenshawNational Institute for Medical Research
1988Beverly Griffin appointed first woman professor at Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith HospitalGriffinImperial College
December 1990BRCA1, a single gene on chromosome 17, shown to be responsible for many breast and ovarian cancersKing, Lee, Newman, Morrow, Anderson, HueyUniversity of California Berkeley
2 Sep 1992Barbara McClintock diedMcClintockUniversity of Missouri
4 Jul 1993Gladys Lounsbury Hobby diedHobbyColumbia University, Pfizer
29 Jul 1994Dorothy M Crowfoot Hodgkin diedHodgkinOxford University
1996First reports that blood stem cell might be able to give rise to cells other than those of the blood systemBlau, Lagasse, Lemischka, Morrison, Thiese, Krause, Gussoni, Bjornson 
1 Feb 1996Paper published indicating thymus-leukaemia antigen, a cell-surface marker, stimulates T cells to destroy specific target cellsSharmaPennsylvania State University
21 Feb 1999Gertrude B Elion diedElionWellcome Research Laboratories
2 Jan 2000Polyoma virus shown to be potential tool for delivering gene therapyKrauzewicz, Stokrova, Jenkins, Elliott, Higgns, GriffinImperial College, Czech Academy of Sciences, University of Wales
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, FrancheschiWeizmann Institute
13 Dec 2003Sharma discovered some bladder cancer cells expressed the marker NY-ESO-1 providing means for cancer vaccineSharmaMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
1 Jan 2005Discovery of nerve cell that allows the brain to determine spatial position May-Britt Moser, Edvard Moser, O'KeefeNorwegian University of Science and Technology
25 Aug 2005Harvard scientists reported reprogramming adult skin cells into embryonic stem cells Cowan, Eggan, Melton, AlienzaHarvard Stem Cell Institute
2006Inducible co-stimulator (ICOS) protein found to enhance anti-CTLA-4 treatment in destruction of cancer cellsSharma, Liakou, Kamat, Ng Tang, Chen, Sun, Troncoso, LogothetisMD Anderson Cancer Center
11 Nov 2006Esther Lederberg diedEsther LederbergWisconsin University
22 Nov 2006Asima Chatterjee, an Indian organic chemist, diedChatterjeeUniversity of Calcutta
29 Sep 2007Katsuko Saruhashi diedSaruhashi 
30 May 2011Rosalyn Yalow diedYalowVeterans Administration Hospital
May 2012First patent application submitted for CRISPR-Cas 9 technologyDoudna, CharpentierUniversity of California Berkeley, University of Vienna
17 Aug 2012Publication of radically new gene editing method that harnesses the CRISPR-Cas9 system Jinek, Chylinski, Fonfara, Hauer, Doudna, CharpentierUniversity of California Berkeley
30 Dec 2012Rita Levi-Montalcini diedLevi-MontalciniInstitute of Cell Biology of the CNR
9 Jan 2013Brigitte Askonas died in London, United KingdomAskonasLondon, United Kingdom
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 fertilisationNaikanCrick Institute
5 Oct 2015Tu Youyou awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of artemisinin, a treatment for malariaTuChina Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences
13 Jun 2016Beverly Griffin diedGriffinImperial College