Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Saruhashi 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+0000Fischer is a biochemist. He is best known for helping to discover and describe reversible protein phosphorylation, a biological and chemical reaction that regulates the activities of cell proteins. This he did with Edwin Krebs at the University of Washington. Their work helped illustrate how life exists at the cellular level. They were both awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1992.1920-04-06T00:00:00+0000Monod was a French biochemist who together with Francois Jacob worked out the genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis based on their experiments with Escherichia coli in the early 1960s. They proposed that a messenger molecule in cells carried codes from the DNA in the cell nucleus to the site of protein synthesis in the cell's cytoplasm. This messenger was later called messenger RNA. Based on his work Monrod was awarded a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1965. 1920-06-07T00:00:00+0000Jacob was a French biologist who on the back of experiments in bacteria with Jacques Monod provided the first evidence of the existence and role of an intermediary molecule, now known as messenger RNA, which carries genetic information from genes to the cell's protein factories for the production of specific proteins. He shared the Nobel Prize in 1965 for 'discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis.'1920-06-17T00:00:00+0000Ivanovsky was a Russian microbiologist who was one the first scientists to discover viruses. He made the discovery based on a request to investigate a disease that was destroying tobacco crops in the Ukraine which he carried out while a doctoral student. Initially he believed the destruction was due to mosaic disease, which was commonly linked to bacteria. He then noticed that sap filtered from the diseased plants could transfer the infection to healthy plants. With the microorganism proving invisible even under the highest magnification and able to permeate porcelain filters designed to trap bacteria, Ivanosky concluded the causal agent was an extremely tiny infectious agent. He first described his findings in an article in 1882 and then in a dissertation in 1902. 1920-06-20T00:00:00+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 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+0000Benacerraf shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1980 for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulates immunological reactions'.1920-10-29T00:00:00+0000Blackwell was the first woman to get medical degree in US and to be registered on UK Medical Register1921-02-03T00:00:00+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+0000Merrifield was a biochemist and organic chemist. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for inventing a process known as solid phase peptide synthesis. He developed the technique in 1965. It provided a methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix. By the mid-1960s he and his team had proved the method could be used to synthesise bradykinin, angiotensin, desamino-oxytocin and insulin. In 1969 they managed to synthesise the enzyme, ribonuclease A. This was the first proof of the chemical nature of enzymes. Merrifield's method is now a rountine method for automatically synthesising large proteins, novel nucleotides, or short fragments of DNA.1921-07-15T00:00:00+0000 Yalow shared the 1977 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the development of radioimmunoassay diagnostic tests to measure the concentration of hormones, vitamins, viruses, enzymes, drugs and other substances. 1921-07-19T00:00:00+0000Petri was a microbiologist who credited with the invention of the petri dish, a shallow glass cylinder used to culture cells and bacteria. This he developed in the late 1870s while working as an assistant to Robert Koch. Petri developed the dish to help culture bacteria on agar plates. He subsequently developed the technique of agar culture to clone bacterial colonies derived from single cells. His work helped improve the process of identifying bacteria responsible for disease.1921-12-20T00:00:00+0000Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'1922-01-09T00:00:00+0000The insulin was given to a Canadian 14 year old boy, Leonard Thompson with Type diabetes. It was administered by Frederick Grant Banting, a Canadian medical physician. Aided by the treatment, Thompson went on to survive another 13 years. He died at the age of 27 from pneumonia. Prior to the clinical development of insulin, Type 1 diabetes was a fatal disease.1922-01-11T00:00:00+0000Holley shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'1922-01-28T00:00:00+0000Laveran was a French physician who was one of the first to show protozoan parasites were the cause of disease. He first made the link in 1880 after finding parasites in a blood smear taken from a patient who had just died from malaria. This parasite would later be called Plasmodium. Laveran subsequently identified Trypanosoma, another protozoan parasite, was the cause of trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness). In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize on the back of these discoveries. Laveran devoted half of his prize money to set up the Laboratory of Tropical Medicine at the Pasteur Institute where he was Chief of the Honorary Service. 1922-05-18T00:00:00+0000Good was a physician and scientific researcher whose work on the cellular mechanisms of immunity earned him the reputation as one of the founders of modern immunology. In 1962 he helped demonstrate the two-component system of immunity. The first consisted of T cells, produced by the thymus gland, which he showed were important players in cell-mediated immunity. The second were the B cells, produced by the bone marrow, which he identified as responsible for producing antibodies. Three years later he demonstrated the important role tonsils play in the immune system. In addition to these landmark discoveries, he worked out, through experiments on mice, the crucial role of T cells in the rejection of skin allografts. He used this finding to perform the first successful bone marrow transplant between persons who were not identical twins. 1922-05-21T00:00:00+0000Takamine was the first to isolate the hormone adrenalin from the suprarenal gland. It was the first pure hormone isolated from a natural source.1922-07-22T00:00:00+0000Founder of Sera-Lab, the first biotechnology company to commercialise monoclonal antibodies, Murray's entrepreneurial efforts paved the way to the wide-scale adoption of the technology in research and its clinical application. 1922-10-21T00:00:00+0000Hertwig was a German biologist who determined that fertilisation starts when the nuclei of sperm and ovum cells fuse. This he proved in 1876 through experiments with sea urchins. Eight years later he demonstrated, through investigations of frog eggs, that the cell divides along its long axis. He was also prescient in predicting, in 1885, that the nucleic acid is the substance responsible for fertilisation and the transmission of hereditary traits. This phenomenon was proven in 1944. 1922-10-25T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
22 Mar 1920Katsuko Saruhashi was born in Tokyo, JapanSaruhashi  
6 Apr 1920Edmond H Fischer was born in Shanghai, ChinaFischerUniversity of WashingtonBiochemistry
7 Jun 1920Jacques Monod was born in Nancy, FranceMonodPasteur InstituteGenetics
17 Jun 1920Francois Jacob was born in Nancy, FranceJacobPasteur InstituteGenetics
20 Jun 1920Dmitry I Ivanovsky diedIvanovskyUniversity of St PetersburgVirology
25 Jul 1920Rosalind E Franklin was born in London, United KingdomFranklinKings College LondonDNA
29 Oct 1920Baruj Benacerraf was born in Caracas, VenezuelaBenacerrafHarvard Medical SchoolImmunology
3 Feb 1921Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, EnglandBlackwell  
9 Mar 1921Evelyn Witkin was born in New York City, USAWitkinNew York CityDNA, Genetics
15 Jul 1921Robert Bruce Merrifield born in Fort Worth, Texas, USAMerrifieldRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry
19 Jul 1921Rosalyn Yalow was born in New York NY, USAYalowVeterans Administration HospitalDiagnostics, Endocrinology
20 Dec 1921Richard Julius Petri diedPetriImperial Health OfficeBacteriology
9 Jan 1922Har Gobind Khorana was born in Raipur, IndiaKhoranaRaipur, IndiaGenetics
1922Insulin was used to treat diabetes for the first time. BantingUniversity of Toronto 
28 Jan 1922Robert W Holley was born in Urbana IL, USAHolleyCornell UniversityGenetics
18 May 1922Charles L Alphonse Laveran diedLaveranPasteur InstituteInfectious diseases
21 May 1922Robert A Good was born in Crosby, Minnesota, USAGoodUniversity of MinnesotaImmunology, Transplantation
22 Jul 1922Jokichi Takamine diedTakamine Biochemistry
21 Oct 1922David Murray was born in Poole, Dorset, United KingdomMurrayPoole, Dorset, United Kingdom 
25 Oct 1922Oskar Hertwig diedHertwig Reproduction, Genetics

22 Mar 1920

Katsuko Saruhashi was born in Tokyo, Japan

6 Apr 1920

Edmond H Fischer was born in Shanghai, China

7 Jun 1920

Jacques Monod was born in Nancy, France

17 Jun 1920

Francois Jacob was born in Nancy, France

20 Jun 1920

Dmitry I Ivanovsky died

25 Jul 1920

Rosalind E Franklin was born in London, United Kingdom

29 Oct 1920

Baruj Benacerraf was born in Caracas, Venezuela

3 Feb 1921

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

9 Mar 1921

Evelyn Witkin was born in New York City, USA

15 Jul 1921

Robert Bruce Merrifield born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA

19 Jul 1921

Rosalyn Yalow was born in New York NY, USA

20 Dec 1921

Richard Julius Petri died

9 Jan 1922

Har Gobind Khorana was born in Raipur, India


Insulin was used to treat diabetes for the first time.

28 Jan 1922

Robert W Holley was born in Urbana IL, USA

18 May 1922

Charles L Alphonse Laveran died

21 May 1922

Robert A Good was born in Crosby, Minnesota, USA

22 Jul 1922

Jokichi Takamine died

21 Oct 1922

David Murray was born in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom

25 Oct 1922

Oskar Hertwig died