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.

Evans shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering the 'principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.'1941-01-01T00:00:00+0000Term first used by A. Jost, a Danish microbiologist, in lecture on sexual reproduction in yeast presented to the Technical Institute in Lwow, Poland 1941-01-01T00:00:00+0000Walker shared the 1997 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for describing the enzymatic synthesis of adenosine triphosphate.1941-01-07T00:00:00+0000Albert Alexander, a constable in the police force in Oxford, was given the first injections of penicillin, at Radcliffe Infirmary. He had contracted a bacterial infection after a rose thorn scratched his face. His temperature went down within 24 hours of receiving 160mg of penicillin and he began to recover. Sadly there was only enough penicillin to treat him for 5 days and he died a month later. 1941-02-12T00:00:00+0000Banting was a Canadian physician who helped discover and isolate insulin. He also pioneered the extraction of insulin from pigs and cattle and demonstrated its use to treat diabetes in dogs. In 1923 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this work. 1941-02-21T00:00:00+0000Treated at the Radcliffe Infirmary, the patient was Albert Alexander, a constable in the police force in Oxford. He had been given penicillin to treat a bacterial infection he suffered after being scratched by a rose thorn. Initially the treatment proved effective, but lack of supplies prevented him getting penicillin after just five days of treatment. Following his death the decision was taken that until penicillin production could be improved only children would be treated with the drug as they would need less quantities than adults.1941-03-15T00:00:00+0000Brown is a geneticist who shared the 1985 Nobel Prize with Joseph L Goldstein for discovering how cholesterol metabolism is regulated. They determined that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream. Insufficient LDL receptors are associated with familial hypercholesterolomia which heavily predisposes sufferers to cholesterol-related disease. Their work helped lay the foundation for the development of statin drugs to lower cholesterol. 1941-04-13T00:00:00+0000Berger was a psychiatrist and neurologist who developed the first electroencephalogram (EEG) in 1924 for recording brain wave patterns. His technique involved the insertion of silver wires under the patient's scalp, one at the front and one at the back of the head. Berger's innovation was a historic breakthrough, providing an important neurological and psychological tool. Using the EEG Berger was the first to describe different waves or rhythms in the normal and abnormal brain. Many of his German peers, however, did not recognise the significance of his work. Despite gaining international recognition, the Nazi regime forced Berger into early retirement at the age of 65 and banned him from any further work on the EEG. 1941-06-01T00:00:00+0000Gilman shared the 1994 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering G-proteins and their role in signal transduction within cells.1941-07-01T00:00:00+0000Born in Germany, Schoenheimer 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.1941-09-11T00:00:00+0000An oncologist and scientist, Levy helped pioneer the development of the first monoclonal antibodies effective in combating cancer. His work laid the foundation for the development of Rituxan, the first monoclonal antibody drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer. 1941-12-06T00:00:00+0000Research undertaken by Health Division of Manhattan Project. 1942-01-01T00:00:00+0000Observation made by Leon O. Jacobson working within Health Division of the Manhattan Project.1942-01-01T00:00:00+0000C.H. Waddington, 'The Epigenotype', Endeavour, 1 (1942), 18-20.1942-01-01T00:00:00+0000Bragg shared the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son, William Lawrence Bragg, for the development of X-ray crystallography. Using his experience of ionisation measurements William H. Bragg managed to construct an X-ray spectometer to investigate the properties of X-rays. He maintained an active interest in X-ray crystallography until his death. 1942-03-12T00:00:00+0000Sulston is a biologist. He played a central role in sequencing the genome of the Caenorhabditis elegans, a transparent nematode (roundworm). It was the first animal to have its genome sequenced. Based on his work with the nematode Sulston helped set up the project to sequence the human genome which he did as director of the Sanger Centre. The first draft of the human genome sequence was completed in 2000. In 2002 he shared the Nobel Prize for identifying how genes regulate the life cycle of cells through apoptosis. 1942-03-27T00:00:00+0000Prusiner is a biochemist and neurologist who is known for his discovery of prions in 1982, a class of proteins he believed caused infections by improper protein folding, resulting in fatal disease in the brain and neural tissue. Initially the scientific community was sceptical of Prusiner's work, but by the 1990s prions had become linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow's disease, and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) and are now being investigated as a possible cause of Alzheimer's diease and Parkinsons. Prusiner was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of prions.1942-05-28T00:00:00+0000Nusslein-Volhard shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries relating to genetic control of early embryonic development.1942-10-20T00:00:00+0000A bioentrepreneur and venture capitalist, Green was the first Chief Executive Officer of Hybritech, America's first monoclonal antibody biotechnology company, and helped found or manage eleven medical technology companies. 1942-11-30T00:00:00+0000Landsteiner was an Austrian-American immunologist and pathologist who has been called the founder of transfusion medicine. In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the main human blood types (A, B and O), published in 1901, and for his development of the ABO system of blood typing which enabled blood transfusion to become a safe medical procedure. In 1909 he also helped discover the microorganism responsible for poliovirus which provided the foundation for the development of the polio vaccine. He also discovered the Rh factor in 1940. This is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. This can cause problems in pregnancy for women with the Rh-negative blood group whose foetus has the Rh-positive blood group.1943-06-26T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
1 Jan 1941Martin J Evans was born in Stroud, United KingdomEvansCardiff UniversityGenetics
1941Term 'genetic engineering' first coinedJost Recombinant DNA
7 Jan 1941John E Walker was born in Halifax, United KingdomWalkerLaboratory of Molecular BiologyBiochemistry
12 Feb 1941First patient treated with penicillin Oxford UniversityAntibacterial agents
1941Frederick Grant Banting diedGrantUniversity of TorontoBiochemistry, Endocrinology
15 Mar 1941First patient treated with penicillin diedFlorey, Chain, HealeyOxford UniversityAntibacterial agents
13 Apr 1941Michael S Brown was born in New York, USABrownUniversity of TexasBiochemistry
1 Jun 1941Hans Berger diedBerger Neuroscience
1 Jul 1941Alfred G Gilman was born in New Haven, Connecticut, USAGilmanNew Haven, ConnecticutCell
11 Sep 1941Rudolph Schoenheimer diedSchoenheimerLeipzig University, Columbia UniversityAnalytical chemistry
6 Dec 1941Ronald Levy was born in Carmel, California, United StatesLevyCarmel, California 
1942 - 1945Animal experiments launched to investigate the biological effects of acute and chronic exposure to different forms and intensities of ionising radiationJacobson, Zirkle, Bloom University of ChicagoStem cells
1942 - 1945One part of the blood system, the spleen, offers some form of protection against radiation damageJacobsonUniversity of ChicagoStem cells
1942'Epigenetics' coined as a term to describe how genes interact with the environment to produce the physical traits of an organism WaddngtonCambridge UniversityEpigenetics
12 Mar 1942William Henry Bragg diedBraggLeeds University, University College LondonX ray crystallography
27 Mar 1942John E Sulston born in Cambridge, United KingdomSulstonLaboratory of Molecular BiologyCell, Genetics, DNA sequencing
28 May 1942Stanley B Prusiner was born in Des Moines, Iowa, USAPrusinerUniversity College San FranciscoNeurosciences
20 Oct 1942Christiane Nusslein-Volhard was born in Magdeburg, GermanyNusslein-VolhardMax-Planck-Institute for Developmental BiologyEmbyology, Genetics
30 Nov 1942Ted Greene was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USAGreeneCleveland, Ohio 
26 Jun 1943Karl Landsteiner diedLandsteinerRockefeller InstituteImmunology

1 Jan 1941

Martin J Evans was born in Stroud, United Kingdom

1941

Term 'genetic engineering' first coined

7 Jan 1941

John E Walker was born in Halifax, United Kingdom

12 Feb 1941

First patient treated with penicillin

1941

Frederick Grant Banting died

15 Mar 1941

First patient treated with penicillin died

13 Apr 1941

Michael S Brown was born in New York, USA

1 Jun 1941

Hans Berger died

1 Jul 1941

Alfred G Gilman was born in New Haven, Connecticut, USA

11 Sep 1941

Rudolph Schoenheimer died

6 Dec 1941

Ronald Levy was born in Carmel, California, United States

1942 - 1945

Animal experiments launched to investigate the biological effects of acute and chronic exposure to different forms and intensities of ionising radiation

1942 - 1945

One part of the blood system, the spleen, offers some form of protection against radiation damage

1942

'Epigenetics' coined as a term to describe how genes interact with the environment to produce the physical traits of an organism

12 Mar 1942

William Henry Bragg died

27 Mar 1942

John E Sulston born in Cambridge, United Kingdom

28 May 1942

Stanley B Prusiner was born in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

20 Oct 1942

Christiane Nusslein-Volhard was born in Magdeburg, Germany

30 Nov 1942

Ted Greene was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

26 Jun 1943

Karl Landsteiner died