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.

Greengard shared the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine for research on how neurotransmitters function in the nervous system.1925-12-11T00:00:00+0000Lloyd Felton, a scientist, develops a precipitation technique for the isolation of pure antibodies as part of an effort to develop a therapy for pneumonia. 1926-01-01T00:00:00+0000Golgi was an Italian cytologist who shared the 1906 Nobel Prize in Medicine for research into the nervous system. He developed a microscopic technique, using silver compounds, for seeing new and unseen structures in nerve tissues and individual neurons in the brain.1926-01-21T00:00:00+0000Berg is an American biochemist. He first made his name in 1971 by demonstrating it was possible to insert DNA from a bacterium into the a virus' DNA, creating what is called recombinant DNA. This he did as part of his work to study viral chromosomes. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1980 for this work. His technique paved the way to the development of genetic engineering and the modern biotechnology industry. Berg was also instrumental in the setting up of the Asimolar Conference on Recombinant DNA, in 1975, which drew up the first guidelines for experiments with genetic engineering. 1926-06-30T00:00:00+0000Rose was a biochemist who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for contributing to understandings about how cells break down proteins. He first became the puzzle of how cells identify and destroy unwanted proteins in the 1950s. In the late 1970s he showed that ubiquitin, a protein present in countless tissues, helped tag other proteins that needed to be destroyed. It would then attach itself to another protein that was no longer functioning and take it to the proteasome chamber to be broken down and recycled. Rose also helped in the development of a drug to treat multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. The drug works by disrupting the protein disposal mechanism and kills the cancer cells with a pile-up of protein.1926-07-16T00:00:00+0000A chemist and biophysicist, Klug won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of crystallographic electron microscopy and discoveries into nucleic acid-protein complexes.1926-08-11T00:00:00+0000Schally shared the 1977 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the peptide hormone production of the brain.'1926-11-30T00:00:00+0000Brenner shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.'1927-01-13T00:00:00+0000Vane was a pharmacologist who shared the 1982 Nobel Prize in Medicine for helping to determine how aspirin produces pain-relief and reduces inflammation. He was a central figure in the discovery of prostaglandins in the mid 1970s. These are hormone-like substances that control several important functions in body and help the body when it comes under attack. Vane's work laid the foundation for new treatments for heart and blood vessel disease and the introduction of ACE inhibitors, a class of drugs commonly used for the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. 1927-03-29T00:00:00+0000Nirenberg was a biochemist and geneticist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for interpreting the genetic code and its function of protein synthesis. The Prize was given on the back of some experiments Nirenberg conducted in 1960 and 1961 which identified particular codons (3 chemical units of DNA) that specified each of the 20 amino acids that make up protein molecules. 1927-04-10T00:00:00+0000Kossel is best known for having isolated and described the five organic compounds present in nucleic acid which are key to the formation of DNA and RNA. 1927-07-05T00:00:00+0000Milstein was an Argentinian biochemist. Together with Georges Kohler, Milstein developed the first unlimited supply of long-lasting monoclonal antibodies. Their technique now underpins the development and application of many diagnostics and therapeutics. Kohler and Milstein devised the method as part of their search for a tool to investigate how the immune system can make so many different kinds antibodies, each able to bind to a highly specific receptor on foreign substances that invade the body. 1927-10-08T00:00:00+0000Frederick Griffith, British microbiologist, discovers that a harmless strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae can be made virulent after being exposed to heat-killed virulent strains. On the basis of this he hypothesises that some transforming principle from the heat-killed strain is responsible for making the harmless strain virulent. 1928-01-01T00:00:00+0000Fibiger published the first randomisation method for a clinical trial. The aim of the trial, conducted in 1898, was to investigate the effect of serum therapy on diphtheria. Fibiger would later go on to win the 1926 Nobel Prize for Medicine for demonstrating a roundworm could cause stomach cancer in rats and mice. Following his death researchers showed that the roundworm could not cause cancer and were due to vitamin deficiency and that Fibiger had mistakenly confused non-cancerous tumours for cancerous tumours in his experiments.1928-01-30T00:00:00+0000Watson is a molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist. He is renowned for the part he played in determining the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953, for which he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Nobel Prize for Medicine. Watson also helped set up the Human Genome Project, which he headed up between 1990 to 1992. He left the project after campaign against the NIH patenting of the human genome. In 2007 he became the second person to publish his fully sequenced genome online. This he did to encourage the development of personalised medicine. 1928-04-06T00:00:00+0000Noguchi was a Japanese bacteriologist. He is best remembered for his identification, in 1913, of the causative agent of syphilis (the bacteria Treponema pallidum), and identification of the pathogen responsible for Carrion's disease (a Leishmania parasite). Unable to get a medical position in Japan because of his hand deformity which potential employers feared would put off potential patients, Noguchi spent his life doing laboratory work in the United States. While valued in his lifetime, his reputation took a battering after his death because researchers struggled to reproduce some of his claims, including having discovered the cause of yellow fever, polio and rabies. 1928-05-21T00:00:00+0000Woese was a microbiologist who discovered the first archaea, single cell organisms with no nucleus or other organelles.1928-07-15T00:00:00+0000Ray Wu pioneered the first primer-extension method for DNA sequencing which laid the foundation for the Human Genome Project. He was also instrumental in the application of genetic engineering to agricultural plants to improve their output and resistance to pests, salt and drought. 1928-08-14T00:00:00+00001928-09-28T00:00:00+0000Nathans shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of restriction enzymes.1928-10-30T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
11 Dec 1925Paul Greengard was born in New York NY, USAGreengardRockefeller UniversityNeuroscience
1926First pure antibody preparation madeFeltonHarvard UniversityAntibodies
21 Jan 1926Camillo Golgi diedGolgiUniversity of PaviaNeuroscience
30 Jun 1926Paul Berg was born in New York NY, USABergStanford UniversityRecombinant DNA
16 Jul 1926Irwin Rose was born in Brooklyn NY, USARoseUniversity of California IrvineBiochemistry, Cell
11 Aug 1926Aaron Klug was born in Zelvas, LithuaniaKlugLaboratory of Molecular Biology 
30 Nov 1926Andrew V Schally was born in Wilno (now Vilnius), Poland (now Lithuania)SchallyVeterans Administration HospitalEndocrinology, Biochemistry
13 Jan 1927Sydney Brenner was born in Germiston, South AfricaBrennerLaboratory of Molecular BiologyGenetics
29 Mar 1927John Robert Vane was born in Tardebigge, UKVaneUniversity of LondonPharmacology
10 Apr 1927Marshall W Nirenberg was born in New York NY, USANirenbergNational Institutes of HealthGenetics, DNA
5 Jul 1927Albrecht Kossel diedKosselUniversity of HeidelbergGenetics
8 Oct 1927Cesar Milstein was born in Bahia Blanca, ArgentinaMilsteinLaboratory of Molecular BiologyAntibodies, Monoclonal antibodies, Immunology
1928Bacteria shown capable of transformationGriffithPathological Laboratory of the Ministry of HealthDNA
30 Jan 1928Johannes Fibiger diedFiber Antibodies, Oncology, Clinical trial
6 Apr 1928James D Watson was born in Chicago, IL, USAWatsonLaboratory of Molecular BiologyDNA, Genetics
21 May 1928Hideyo Noguchi diedNoguchiRockefeller InstituteBacteriology
15 Jul 1928Carl Richard Woese was born in Syracuse, New York, USAWoeseSyracuse, New YorkMicrobiology
14 Aug 1928Ray Wu was born in Beijing, ChinaWuBeijing 
28 Sep 1928Penicillin, the first widely available antibiotic drug, was discovered by Alexander FlemingFlemingSt Mary's HospitalAntibacterial agents
30 Oct 1928Daniel Nathans was born in Wilmington DE, USANathan Johns Hopkins University Restriction enzymes

11 Dec 1925

Paul Greengard was born in New York NY, USA

1926

First pure antibody preparation made

21 Jan 1926

Camillo Golgi died

30 Jun 1926

Paul Berg was born in New York NY, USA

16 Jul 1926

Irwin Rose was born in Brooklyn NY, USA

11 Aug 1926

Aaron Klug was born in Zelvas, Lithuania

30 Nov 1926

Andrew V Schally was born in Wilno (now Vilnius), Poland (now Lithuania)

13 Jan 1927

Sydney Brenner was born in Germiston, South Africa

29 Mar 1927

John Robert Vane was born in Tardebigge, UK

10 Apr 1927

Marshall W Nirenberg was born in New York NY, USA

5 Jul 1927

Albrecht Kossel died

8 Oct 1927

Cesar Milstein was born in Bahia Blanca, Argentina

1928

Bacteria shown capable of transformation

30 Jan 1928

Johannes Fibiger died

6 Apr 1928

James D Watson was born in Chicago, IL, USA

21 May 1928

Hideyo Noguchi died

15 Jul 1928

Carl Richard Woese was born in Syracuse, New York, USA

14 Aug 1928

Ray Wu was born in Beijing, China

28 Sep 1928

Penicillin, the first widely available antibiotic drug, was discovered by Alexander Fleming

30 Oct 1928

Daniel Nathans was born in Wilmington DE, USA