Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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d'Herelle was a microbiologist who co-discovered bacteriophages (phages), viruses that infect bacteria that are now major tools in biotechnology. He isolated the first phage from chicken faeces in 1919. Following this he successfully treated chicken affected by a plague of typhus with the phage and in August 1919 cured a patient with dysentery using the same method. This laid the basis for the development of phage therapy. 1873-04-25T00:00:00+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. 1873-05-21T00:00:00+0000Loewi was a pharmacologist and physician. He is credited for having discovered the first neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the brain. His work provided the first evidence that chemicals were involved in the transmission of impulses between nerve cells and from neurons to the responsive organ. He established this through investigations of the frog. Loewi was awarded the 1936 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work. 1873-06-03T00:00:00+0000Carrel was a surgeon and biologist. Inspired by lessons he took from from an embroideress, he developed new techniques for suturing blood vessels that minimised damage to the vascular wall. He was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of 'his work on vascular structure and the transplantation of blood vessels and organs'. During World War I he helped develop a new method for treating wounds based on chlorine, which was a major advance in the care of traumatic wounds. In the 1930s he helped create a glass perfusion pump, a forerunner to the artificial heart. His reputation later became marred in controversy because of his strong support for Eugenic policies of sterilisation for those with families with hereditary diseases and a criminal history as well euthanasia for the mentally defective. In 1944 he was singled out for collaboration with the Nazis under the Vichy government, but he died before going on trial. 1873-06-28T00:00:00+0000Erlanger shared the 1944 Nobel Prize for Medicine for research into the the actions of nerve fibers. 1874-01-05T00:00:00+0000Dale was a pharmacologist and physiologist who helped identify acetylcholine, the first neurotransmitter discovered, in 1914. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1936 on the basis of this work and uncovering the chemical process by which nerve impulses are transmitted. During the 1940s he drew up a scheme to differentiate neurons according to the neurotransmitters they release. 1875-06-09T00:00:00+0000Macleod was a Scottish physician and biochemist who was a key adviser in the original experiments carried out by Frederick Grant Banting Charles Best to establish the use of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. Macleod provided the laboratory space and experimental animals for the work. He was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for helping develop insulin therapy for diabetes in 1923.1876-09-06T00:00:00+0000Noguchi 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.1876-11-24T00:00:00+0000von Baer was an Estonian biologist who was the first to isolate the mammalian egg cell. 1876-11-28T00:00:00+0000A German chemist, Windaus, gained the 1928 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into cholesterol and other sterols and their relation to vitamins. H1876-12-25T00:00:00+0000Albrecht Kossel, German biochemist, shows that the substance called nuclein consists of a protein and non-protein component.1877-01-01T00:00:00+0000Avery was a Canadian-American physician who helped discover the genetic information in genes and chromosomes is made up of DNA.1877-10-21T00:00:00+0000An American virologist, Zinsser isolated the bacterium that causes typhus. 1878-11-17T00:00:00+0000Louis Pasteur develops an attenuated chicken cholera vaccine1879-01-01T00:00:00+0000A pathologist, Rous won the 1966 Nobel Prize for showing how viruses could cause cancer. He demonstrated this in 1910 by transplanting some material from a cancer tumour taken from a chicken into a healthy chicken. The healthy chicken developed cancer. Other scientists struggled to replicate his experiment in mammals so his discovery was initially dismissed. 1879-10-05T00:00:00+0000Hess was a physiologist who identified parts of the brain that control internal organs. He used brain stimulation techniques using electrodes to map regions of the brain associated with specific physiological responses. He also found it possible to induce excitement and apathy by stimulating different parts of the hypothalamus. 1881-03-17T00:00:00+0000Schleiden was a botanist. Based on his study of plant structures under the microscope he helped develop the theory that cells are the basic structure in all organisms and the basic unit of reproduction. He also connected the cell nucleus with cell division and suggested that all embryonic plant cells arose from one cell. 1881-06-23T00:00:00+0000Fleming was a biologist and microbiologist. He first made his mark through his discovery of lysosyme in 1923. This is an enzyme produced in the tears, saliva, mucus and human milk which is an important part of the immune system. Today he is best known for having found penicillin, a mould subsequently developed as the first antibiotic drug to treat bacterial diseases. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950 for this discovery.1881-08-06T00:00:00+0000The stem cell is conceived as a distinctive cell which serves as the starting point for blood formation.1882-01-01T00:00:00+0000Darwin was an English naturalist best known for developing the theory that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry. His book On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, outlined his evidence for his theory of evolution. While initially rejected, his explanation of natural selection as the basic mechanism for evolution achieved broad consensus by 1930s and was accepted as a unifying theory for the diversity of life. 1882-04-19T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
25 Apr 1873Felix d'Herelle was born in Montreal, Canadad'HerellePasteur InstituteAntibacterial agents, Bacteriophages, Bacteriology, Virology
21 May 1873Hans Berger was born in Coburg, GermanyBergerCoburg, GermanyNeuroscience
3 Jun 1873Otto Loewi was born in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, GermanyLoewiGraz UniversityNeuroscience
28 Jun 1873Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, FranceCarrelRockefeller UniversityTransplantation
5 Jan 1874Joseph Erlanger was born in San Francisco CA, USAErlangerWashington University in St LouisNeuroscience
9 Jun 1875Henry H Dale was born in London, United KingdomDaleNational Institute for Medical ResearchNeuroscience
6 Sep 1876John J R Macleod was bornMacleodUniversity of AberdeenBicohemistry, Endocrinology
24 Nov 1876Hideyo Noguchi was bornNoguchiRockefeller InstituteBacteriology
28 Nov 1876Karl Ernst von Baer diedvon BaerSt Petersburg Academy of SciencesEmbryology
25 Dec 1876Adolf O R Windaus was born   
1877 - 1880Nucleic acid shown to have protein and non-protein componentsKosselUniversity of TubingenDNA
21 Oct 1877 Oswald Theodore Avery was born in Halifax, CanadaAveryRockefeller UniversityDNA
17 Nov 1878Hans Zinsser was bornZinsserColumbia UniversityBacteriology
1879Chicken cholera vaccine developedPasteurPasteur InstituteBacteriology, Vaccine
5 Oct 1879Francis Peyton Rous was born in Baltimore MD, USARousRockefeller UniversityVirology, Oncology
17 Mar 1881Walter R Hess was born in Frauenfeld, SwitzerlandHessUniversity of ZurichNeuroscience
23 Jun 1881Matthias J Schleiden diedSchleiden University of JenaCell
6 Aug 1881Alexander Fleming was bornFlemingLondon UniversityBacteriology, Biochemistry, Antibacterial agents
1882Concept of the stem cell is put forward for the first timeHaeckel, Dantchakoff, Pappenheim, Ehrlich, MaximowUniversity of Jena, Charite Hospital, Koch Institute, Petrograd University Stem cells
19 Apr 1882Charles Darwin diedDarwin Evolution

25 Apr 1873

Felix d'Herelle was born in Montreal, Canada

21 May 1873

Hans Berger was born in Coburg, Germany

3 Jun 1873

Otto Loewi was born in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Germany

28 Jun 1873

Alexis Carrel was born in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France

5 Jan 1874

Joseph Erlanger was born in San Francisco CA, USA

9 Jun 1875

Henry H Dale was born in London, United Kingdom

6 Sep 1876

John J R Macleod was born

24 Nov 1876

Hideyo Noguchi was born

28 Nov 1876

Karl Ernst von Baer died

25 Dec 1876

Adolf O R Windaus was born

1877 - 1880

Nucleic acid shown to have protein and non-protein components

21 Oct 1877

Oswald Theodore Avery was born in Halifax, Canada

17 Nov 1878

Hans Zinsser was born


Chicken cholera vaccine developed

5 Oct 1879

Francis Peyton Rous was born in Baltimore MD, USA

17 Mar 1881

Walter R Hess was born in Frauenfeld, Switzerland

23 Jun 1881

Matthias J Schleiden died

6 Aug 1881

Alexander Fleming was born


Concept of the stem cell is put forward for the first time

19 Apr 1882

Charles Darwin died