Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Huggins shared the 1966 Nobel Prize for discoveries relating to hormonal treatment of prostrate cancer.1997-01-12T00:00:00+0000Sterne pioneered a vaccine against anthrax which effectively wiped out the disease. He used Pasteur's methods to develop the vaccine. 1997-02-26T00:00:00+0000M Serrano et al, 'Oncogenic ras provokes premature cell senescence associated with accumulation of p53 and p16INK4a', Cell, 88 (1997), 593–602.1997-03-01T00:00:00+0000Sager discovered the transmission of genetic traits through chloroplast DNA. This was the first example of genetics not involving the cell nucleus. 1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000Pirie helped determine that the genetic component of viruses was RNA. Before this viruses were thought to be made up completely of proteins. 1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000Wald was an American biochemist who discovered vitamin A is essential for vision. He also demonstrated how reina cells absorb light. 1997-04-12T00:00:00+0000Eccles shared the 1963 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries relating to peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane.1997-05-02T00:00:00+0000Porter was a Canadian biologist who developed electron microscope techniques to get high resolution images of cells and tissues. He also developed a roller-flask for culturing cells and co-invented an instrument for getting ultra-thin slices of tissue for microscopy. 1997-05-02T00:00:00+0000Hershey shared the 1969 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.'1997-05-22T00:00:00+0000Kendrew shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for eliucidating the structures of globular proteins.1997-08-23T00:00:00+0000Daclizumab was approved by the FDA for the preventition of acute rejection of kidney transplants. The monoclonal antibody was developed by Protein Design Labs using a humanising method devised by Cary Queen and marketed together with F. Hoffmann-La Roche. 1997-12-01T00:00:00+0000This overturns the long-held belief that the brain is unable to generate new neurons.1998-01-01T00:00:00+0000The drug is a monoclonal antibody that targets cancer cells that overproduce the HER2/neu oncoprotein1998-01-01T00:00:00+0000Introduction of RNA into cells is shown to silence genes in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Term 'RNA interference' coined. A Fire, S Xu, M K Montgomery, S A Kostas, S E Driver, C C Mello, 'Potent and specific genetic interference by double-stranded RNA in Caenorhabditis elegans', Nature 391 (1998), 806–11.1998-02-01T00:00:00+0000Hitchings shared the 1988 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.'1998-02-27T00:00:00+0000Celera Corporation launches a parallel effort to sequence the human genome to the Human Genome Project. Celera's entry into the field pose policy concerns about open access to gene sequencing data and accelerates the sequencing process in the Human Genome Project. 1998-05-01T00:00:00+0000Cormack shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'the development of computer assisted tomography.'1998-05-07T00:00:00+0000Remicade (infliximab) is approved for the treatment of Crohn's disease. Soon after Remicade wins approval for other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. The drug, a monoclonal antibody against TNF alpha, a powerful promoter of inflammation, was developed in 1989 by Jan Vilcek and Jumning Le and developed in collaboration with Centocor, Marc Feldmann and Maini1998-08-01T00:00:00+0000James Thomson, Jeffrey Jones, and co-workers reported isolating five human embryonic stem cell lines from human blastocysts (Science 282/5391 (1998), 1145-7).1998-10-06T00:00:00+0000Rodell shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of G-proteins and their role in signal transduction within the cell.1998-12-07T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
12 Jan 1997Charles Brenton Huggins diedHugginsUniversity of ChicagoOncology, Endocrinology
26 Feb 1997Max Sterne diedSterneOnderstepoort Veterinary Research InstituteVaccine
Mar 1997p53 shown to be linked to senescence, biological agingSerrano , Lin, McCurrach, Beach, Lowe Cold Spring Harbor LaboratoryOncology, p53
29 Mar 1997Ruth Sager diedSagerRockefeller UniversityGenetics
29 Mar 1997Death of Norman Wingate (Bill) PiriePirie Rothamsted Experimental StationRNA, Virology
12 Apr 1997George Wald diedWald  
2 May 1997John C Eccles diedEcclesAustralian National UniversityNeuroscience
2 May 1997Keith Roberts Porter diedPorter University of ColoradoCell
22 May 1997Alfred D Hershey diedHersheyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonGenetics, Virology
23 Aug 1997John C Kendrew diedKendrewLaboratory of Molecular BiologyBiochemistry
Dec 1997First humanised monoclonal antibody approved for marketQueenProtein Design Labs, RocheMonoclonal antibodies, Recombinant DNA
1998Human brain demonstrated to contain cells with stem-like propertiesEriksson, GageSahlgrenska University Hospital, Salk InstituteStem cells
1998FDA approved Trastuzumab (Herceptin) for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer   Monoclonal antibodies, Oncology
Feb 1998Double stranded RNA demonstrated to be potent mechanism for silencing genesFire, Mello, Xu, Montgomery, Kostas, Driver, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, University of Massachusetts Cancer CenterRNA interference
27 Feb 1998George H Hitchings diedHitchingsWellcome Research LaboratoriesPharmacology
May 1998Commercial Human Genome Project launchedVenterCelera GenomicsDNA Sequencing,, Genomics
7 May 1998Allan M Cormack diedCormackTufts UniversityDiagnostic imaging
Aug 1998FDA and European regulatory authorities approved the first monoclonal antibody drug for an autoimmune diseaseVilcek, Le, Feldmann, MainiNew York University, Centocor, Kennedy Institute of RheumatologyMonoclonal antibodies
Oct 1998First human embryonic stem cell line derived Thomson, Itskovitz-Eldor, Shapiro, Waknitz, Swiergiel, Marshall, JonesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonStem cells
7 Dec 1998Martin Rodbell diedRodbellNational Institute of Environmental Health SciencesCell

12 Jan 1997

Charles Brenton Huggins died

26 Feb 1997

Max Sterne died

Mar 1997

p53 shown to be linked to senescence, biological aging

29 Mar 1997

Ruth Sager died

29 Mar 1997

Death of Norman Wingate (Bill) Pirie

12 Apr 1997

George Wald died

2 May 1997

John C Eccles died

2 May 1997

Keith Roberts Porter died

22 May 1997

Alfred D Hershey died

23 Aug 1997

John C Kendrew died

Dec 1997

First humanised monoclonal antibody approved for market


Human brain demonstrated to contain cells with stem-like properties


FDA approved Trastuzumab (Herceptin) for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer

Feb 1998

Double stranded RNA demonstrated to be potent mechanism for silencing genes

27 Feb 1998

George H Hitchings died

May 1998

Commercial Human Genome Project launched

7 May 1998

Allan M Cormack died

Aug 1998

FDA and European regulatory authorities approved the first monoclonal antibody drug for an autoimmune disease

Oct 1998

First human embryonic stem cell line derived

7 Dec 1998

Martin Rodbell died