Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Pirie was a virus physiologist and biochemist. He helped determine that the genetic component of viruses was RNA. Before this viruses were thought to be made up completely of proteins. During World War II he explored the possibility of extracting edible proteins from leaves, research that he carried on into the 1970s. His experiments were directed towards solving the food problem posed by the growing world population. He hoped to replace the inefficient method of feeding animals to secure protein for the diet.1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000Wald was an American biologist renowned for his research on how the eye passes images to the brain. He first made his mark in the early 1930s when he discovered that vitamin A was an important component in rhodopsin, a light-sensitive biological pigment found in the rods of the retina. Over the next 30 years he conducted a series of experiments which showed when exposed to light rhodopsin changes its form which triggers signals in a complicated network of optic nerve cells which eventually convert into visual impressions in the brain. In 1967 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.'1997-04-12T00:00:00+0000Eccles was an neurophysiologist whose discoveries relating to peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane in the early 1950s won him the 1963 Nobel Prize for Medicine. He and colleagues also conducted experiments that proved chemical synaptic transmission and uncovered the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter in the brain.1997-05-02T00:00:00+0000Porter was a Canadian biologist. He is renowned for having developed many of the techniques and experimental approaches that underpinned the founding of cellular biology as a new discipline in biomedical research. Critically he developed the first electron microscope techniques to get high resolution images of cells and tissues. In 1945 he published the first electron microgragh of a complete animal cell. His other major contributions to the field was his development a roller-flask for culturing cells and helping to invent an instrument for getting ultra-thin slices of tissue for microscopy. 1997-05-02T00:00:00+0000Hershey was an American bacteriologist and geneticist. He is best known for a series of experiments with bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, that helped confirm that DNA rather than proteins carried genetic material. These he performed with Martha Chase in 1952. Hershey shared the 1969 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.' 1997-05-22T00:00:00+0000Analysis undertaken by Christine Wenneras and Agnes Wold revealed inherent discrimination in peer review process against women applications in biomedical field. They published their results as 'Nepotism and sexism in peer-review', Nature, 387 (1997) 341-3. 1997-05-22T00:00:00+0000Kendrew was an English biochemist and crystallogapher. He is best known for having elucidated the structure of myoglobin, a protein that stores oxygen in muscle cells, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1963 he helped found the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and later was its director. For many years he was also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Molecular Biology,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+0000German Council of Science recommends the State and universities and research organisations provide adequate child care services and make appointment procedures gender-neutral to improve number of women in higher positions within science1998-01-01T00:00:00+00001998-01-01T00:00:00+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 was an American physician who helped develop new methods to design drugs that took advantage of the biochemical differences between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents). The aim was to create a drug capable of killing or inhibiting the reproduction of pathogens without harming healthy cells. Numerous drugs were developed on the back of the method, including for leukaemia, malaria, and antiviral drugs for herpes infections and AIDS. He shared the 1988 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.'1998-02-27T00:00:00+0000Higher education institutions required to present plans of action for equality and collect data on distribution of scientific personnel by gender. Includes giving child rearing allowance for young women and men.1998-03-01T00:00:00+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' - the CT scan. The method makes use of computer-processed X-ray measurements taken at different angles for diagnosis. Since its introduction, in the 1970s, CT scans have become a common form of medical imaging to supplement X-rays and ultrasound.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
29 Mar 1997Death of Norman Wingate (Bill) PiriePirieRothamsted Experimental StationRNA, Virology
12 Apr 1997George Wald diedWaldHarvard University, Occular physiology
2 May 1997John C Eccles diedEcclesAustralian National UniversityNeuroscience
2 May 1997Keith Roberts Porter diedPorterHarvard University, University of ColoradoCell
22 May 1997Alfred D Hershey diedHersheyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonGenetics, Virology
22 May 1997Wake-up call for many life sciences funding agencies of inherent discrimination against women applicants as result of analysis of Swedish Medical Research Council's grant selection scheme Wenneras, Wold,  
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
1998Amendments made to German Higher Education Framework Act to promote gender equality in universities and provide greater support for young scientists   
1998European Commission Research Directorate General set up an expert group to prepare a report on women-and-science policy in the European Union   
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, Genetics
27 Feb 1998George H Hitchings diedHitchingsWellcome Research LaboratoriesPharmacology
Mar 1998Academy of Finland set up working group to investigate career opportunities for women and ways to eliminate obstacles preventing equality in academic scientific community   
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

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

22 May 1997

Wake-up call for many life sciences funding agencies of inherent discrimination against women applicants as result of analysis of Swedish Medical Research Council's grant selection scheme

23 Aug 1997

John C Kendrew died

Dec 1997

First humanised monoclonal antibody approved for market

1998

Human brain demonstrated to contain cells with stem-like properties

1998

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

1998

Amendments made to German Higher Education Framework Act to promote gender equality in universities and provide greater support for young scientists

1998

European Commission Research Directorate General set up an expert group to prepare a report on women-and-science policy in the European Union

Feb 1998

Double stranded RNA demonstrated to be potent mechanism for silencing genes

27 Feb 1998

George H Hitchings died

Mar 1998

Academy of Finland set up working group to investigate career opportunities for women and ways to eliminate obstacles preventing equality in academic scientific community

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