Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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

Cori shared the 1947 the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering how the body metabolises glycogen, which is important to how the body stores energy. 1896-12-05T00:00:00+0000Paul Ehrlich, a German scientist, proposes that all cells possess a wide variety of special receptors, or side chains, that function like gatekeepers or locks for each cell. This known as Ehrlich's side chain theory.1897-01-01T00:00:00+0000Enders shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for helping to develop a technique to grow the poliomyeltitis virus, paving the way to a vaccine against polio. Enders also helped pioneer a vaccine against measles. 1897-02-10T00:00:00+0000Reichstein was a chemist who shared the 1950 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning the 'hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects'.1897-07-20T00:00:00+0000Wyckoff pioneered x-ray crystallography of bacteria.1897-08-09T00:00:00+0000William G Ruppel discovered the nucleotide while trying to isolate the bacterial toxin responsible for tuberculosis. 1898-01-01T00:00:00+0000Schoenheimer trained in medicine and then biochemistry. Following the rise of the Nazis Schoenheimer left his position as head of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Leipzig and joined the department of Biological chemistry at Columbia University. He is best known for helping to develop the technique of radioactive tagging to trace biochemical processes in the living things, including the human body. He also worked out that cholesterol is a risk factor in atherosclerosis. 1898-05-10T00:00:00+0000Claude was a physician and cell biologist. In 1930 he developed the process of cell fractionation which involves grinding up cells to break up the membrane and their contents. The material is then placed in a centrifuge to separate out the cells's components. With the technique he was able to identify and purify the RNA from the Rous sarcoma virus which causes cancer in chickens. Claude was also one of the first to use of the electron microscope to study biological cells, which enabled him to discover that ribosomes are the power houses of all cells. In addition he helped show that all eukaryotic cells have a lace-work structure. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning cell structure and function. 1898-08-24T00:00:00+0000Florey was an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist. In 1941 he helped carry out the first clinical trials with penicillin which were undertaken at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. Florey and his team pioneered the first large-scale production of penicillin. In 1945 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in recognition of his work. 1898-09-24T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by William Coley, a New York surgeon, together with the pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis & Co. The vaccine contained a combination of heat-killed bacteria. 1899-01-01T00:00:00+0000Theiler won the 1951 Nobel Prize for Medicine for helping to develop a vaccine against yellow fever. 1899-01-30T00:00:00+0000An American-Canadian physiologist, Best is best known as the medical student who helped Frederick Banting discover insulin, a pancreatic hormone, which laid the foundation for the effective treatment of diabetes. In 1923 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery. 1899-02-27T00:00:00+0000Fieser was an organic chemist. He won many research awards for his work on blood-clotting agents, including for the synthesis of vitamin K, which he achieved in 1939 and for which he was nominated as a contender for the Nobel Prize in 1941 and 1942 (when no prizes were awarded). His work on steroids also laid the foundation for the synthesis of cortisone. In addition he helped develop quinones as antimalarial drugs. Fieser had two chemical reagents named after him. He is also famous for the creation of napalm, a flammable liquid he developed during World War II, which was controversially used as an incendiary device in the Vietnam war. 1899-04-07T00:00:00+0000Julian was a chemist who was a renowned pioneer of pharmacological synthesis. He was the first African-American granted a doctoral degree in chemistry and the first to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. In 1935 he achieved the first synthesis of physostigmine. This he produced from soybean oil. The drug is used to treat glaucoma and delayed gastric emptying. A year later he joined the Gidden Company in Chicago where he oversaw the development of the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human sex hormones progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone from soybean plant sterols. This work laid the foundation for the industrial production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and the oral contraceptive pill. Julian left Gidden in 1953 to found his own company, Julian Laboratories Inc. 1899-04-11T00:00:00+0000Lipmann was a biochemist who shared the 1953 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of coenzyme A. He made the discovery in 1947 when examining pigeon liver extracts. Coenzyme A is one of the most important substances involved in cellular metabolism. It helps convert amino acids, fatty acids and haemoglobulins into energy. 1899-06-12T00:00:00+0000Karl Landsteiner, Austrian scientist, observes a clumping effect when the blood of two people are mixed. On the basis of this he identifies three human blood groups A, B and O, which he labels as C. He also notes that blood transfusion between persons with the same blood group does not result in the destruction of blood cells, but occurs between persons of different blood groups.1900-01-01T00:00:00+0000Richard Kuhn awarded 1938 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on carostenoids and vitamins. He is also credited with the discovery ot the deadly nerve agent Soman. 1900-12-03T00:00:00+0000Karl Landsteiner, devises a test for A, B and O blood groupings using antibodies.1901-01-01T00:00:00+0000The work was carried out independently by Leo Loeb, in Canada and the US, and by Carl Jensen in Copenhagen. Results from the experiments showed some animals were more susceptible to transplanted tumour tissue than others. This ignited a debate 1901-01-01T00:00:00+0000Pauling was a chemist and biochemist who helped pioneer quantum chemistry and mechanics. He combined methods from x-ray crystallography, molecular model building and quantum chemistry. Pauling was the first to find the alpha helix structure of proteins. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 'research on the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex structures.' He also co-authored the first paper to suggest sickle-cell anaemia was a genetic disease, which introduced the concept of 'molecular disease'. 1901-02-28T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
5 Dec 1896Carl F Cori was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)CoriWashington University in St LouisBiochemistry
1897Antibody formation theoryEhrlich Antibodies
10 Feb 1897John F Enders was born West Hartford, CT, USAEndersChildren's Hospital BostonVirology, Vaccine
20 Jul 1897Tadeus Reichstein was born in Wloclawek, PolandReichsteinBasel UniversityBiochemistry, Endocrinology
9 Aug 1897Ralph W G Wyckoff was born in Geneva, NY, USAWyckoffRockefeller UniversityBacteriology, Virology
1898A nucelotide called tuberculinic acid found to bind to the protein tuberculin. It is now regarded as the precursor to the discovery of DNA methylationRuppelPhilipps University of MarburgDNA methylation, Epigenetics
10 May 1898Rudolph Schoenheimer was born in Berlin, GermanySchoenheimerLeipzig University, Columbia UniversityAnalytical chemistry
24 Aug 1898Albert Claude was born in Longlier, BelgiumClaudeRockefeller Institute, Jules Bordet Institute, University of BrusselsCell
24 Sep 1898Howard Walter Florey was born in Adelaide, Australia  Antibacterial agents
1899First commercial vaccine developed for treatment of sarcomaColeyMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Parke Davis & CoImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology,
30 Jan 1899Max Theiler was born in Pretoria, South AfricaTheilerPretoria, South AfricaVaccine
1899Charles H Best was born in West Pembroke, ME, USABestUniversity of TorontoEndocrinology
7 Apr 1899Louis F Fieser was born in Columbus, Ohio, USAFieserHarvard University 
11 Apr 1899Percy Lavon Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama, USAJulianHarvard UniversityPharmacology, Reproduction
12 Jun 1899Fritz A Lipmann born in Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany (now Russia)LipmannCornell University, Harvard UniversityNutrition
1900 - 1901Blood grouping observedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
3 Dec 1900Richard Kuhn was born in Vienna, Austria-HungaryKuhnUniversity of HeidelbergBiochemistry
1901Blood groupings diagnostic developedLandsteinerUniversity of ViennaAntibodies
1901 - 1903First successful transplants of tumours in animals reported, providing a new experimental system for studying the role of the immune system in cancerLeob, JensenUniversity of Pennsylvania, Agriculture and Veterinary InstituteCancer immunotherapy, Oncology
28 Feb 1901Linus C Pauling was born in Portland OR, USAPaulingCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, DNA

5 Dec 1896

Carl F Cori was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)

1897

Antibody formation theory

10 Feb 1897

John F Enders was born West Hartford, CT, USA

20 Jul 1897

Tadeus Reichstein was born in Wloclawek, Poland

9 Aug 1897

Ralph W G Wyckoff was born in Geneva, NY, USA

1898

A nucelotide called tuberculinic acid found to bind to the protein tuberculin. It is now regarded as the precursor to the discovery of DNA methylation

10 May 1898

Rudolph Schoenheimer was born in Berlin, Germany

24 Aug 1898

Albert Claude was born in Longlier, Belgium

24 Sep 1898

Howard Walter Florey was born in Adelaide, Australia

1899

First commercial vaccine developed for treatment of sarcoma

30 Jan 1899

Max Theiler was born in Pretoria, South Africa

1899

Charles H Best was born in West Pembroke, ME, USA

7 Apr 1899

Louis F Fieser was born in Columbus, Ohio, USA

11 Apr 1899

Percy Lavon Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama, USA

12 Jun 1899

Fritz A Lipmann born in Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad), Germany (now Russia)

1900 - 1901

Blood grouping observed

3 Dec 1900

Richard Kuhn was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary

1901

Blood groupings diagnostic developed

1901 - 1903

First successful transplants of tumours in animals reported, providing a new experimental system for studying the role of the immune system in cancer

28 Feb 1901

Linus C Pauling was born in Portland OR, USA