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.

The full 97 Mbp genome of Caenorhabditis elegans is found to have more than 19,000 genes.1998-12-11T00:00:00+0000Hodgkin shared the 1963 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane.'1998-12-20T00:00:00+0000Sequence of the first human chromosome (22) is published. 1999-01-01T00:00:00+0000Identified by Jonas Frisen and colleagues1999-01-01T00:00:00+0000Part of research to understand viral resistance in plants. A J Hamilton, D C Baulcombe, 'A species of small antisense RNA in posttranscriptional gene silencing in plants', Sciene, 29, 286/5441 (1999), 950-2.1999-01-01T00:00:00+0000The Athena Project was set up by women in the academic science community. It led to the creation of the Scientific Women's Academic Network (SWAN)1999-01-01T00:00:00+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.1999-02-11T00:00:00+0000Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist renowned for developing new methods to design drugs that made 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. Elion helped develop a number of drugs for a variety of diseases, including leukaemia and malaria. One of her most notable achievements was the creation of the first immunosuppressive drug for organ transplant patients. In 1988 she was joined awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 'discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.'1999-02-21T00:00:00+0000Fraenkel-Conrat was a German biochemist who discovered that RNA is pivotal to the genetic control of viral reproduction and that it is carried in the nucelic core of each virus. He made this finding in 1955 during experiments with the tobacco mosaic virus. By 1960 he had determined the complete sequence of the 159 amino acids in the virus. 1999-04-10T00:00:00+0000Vijay Singh, head of largescale cell culture at Schering-Plough, publishes details of a disposable bioreactor for cell culture using wave-induced agitation. This provides for a major advance in the manufacture of biologicals. 1999-07-01T00:00:00+0000Meeting held under auspices of European Commission's research directorate, DGXII, organised by Nicole Dewandre. Calls for and calls for establishment of network to document best practice in European Union member states1999-07-01T00:00:00+0000M. Toyota, N. Ahuja, M. Ohe-Toyota, J.G. Herman, S.B. Baylin, J-P.J. Issa, 'CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer', PNAS, 96/15 (1999), 8681–86.1999-07-20T00:00:00+0000Jesse Gelsinger, an 18 year old, died after suffering a severe immune response to an adenoviral vector in a dose escalation trial testing gene therapy for ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, an inherited metabolic disorder. His death led to a major reappraisal of gene therapy and stricter regulations for clinical trials investigating gene therapy.1999-09-17T00:00:00+0000H.D. Morgan, H.G. Sutherland, D.I. Martin, E. Whitelaw, 'Epigenetic inheritance at the agouti locus in the mouse', Nature Genetics, 23 (1991), 314–18.1999-11-01T00:00:00+0000Each delegate assigned task to produce report describing existing national policies to promote women in science1999-11-01T00:00:00+0000Nathans was an American molecular biologist who co-discovered restriction enzymes and their applications to break DNA molecules. 1999-11-16T00:00:00+0000Together with Herbert Boyer, Swanson helped found Genentech, the first biotechnology company dedicated to commercialising recombinant DNA. From 1976 to 1990 Swanson was Chief Executive and Director of the company and played an instrumental role in leading it to become the first major biotechnology company to show a profit and go public. 1999-12-06T00:00:00+0000Treatment uses procedure devised by Bordignon.1999-12-01T00:00:00+00002000-01-01T00:00:00+0000Identified by Jonas Frisen and colleagues2000-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
Dec 1998Complete genome sequence of the first multicellular organism, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, is published Sanger Institute, Washington UniversityDNA Sequencing, Genomics
20 Dec 1998Alan Lloyd Hodgkin diedHodgkinCambridge UniversityNeuroscience
1999First human chromosome sequence published  DNA Sequencing, Genomics
1999Adult neural stem cells identified as capable of forming new neural stem cellsFrisenKarolinska InstitutetStem cells
1999Discovery of small interfering RNA (siRNA), very small stretches of double-stranded RNA, interfere with genesBaulcombe, Hamilton John Innes CentreRNA interference
1999Athena Project set up in with mission to advance and promote careers of women in science, engineering and technology in UK higher education and research institutions   
11 Feb 1999Danish Ministry of Research and Information Technology launched initiative to promote women in science    
21 Feb 1999Gertrude B Elion diedElionWellcome Research LaboratoriesPharmacology
10 Apr 1999Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat diedFraenkel-Conrat University of California BerkeleyGenetics, Virology
Jul 1999Disposable bioreactor developed Schering-Plough 
Jul 1999Meeting of 70 European organisations in Brussels issues joint statement describing the under-representation of women in science as 'a serious obstacle for the development of the sciences and for European society' Dewandre  
20 Jul 1999DNA methylation of CpG islands shown to be linked to colorectal cancerToyota, Ahuja, Ohe-Toyota, Herman, Baylin, IssaJohns Hopkins UniversityDNA methylation, Epigenetics, Oncology
Sep 1999Death of the first patient in a gene therapy trial prompts major setback for the fieldGelsinger, WilsonUniversity of PennsylvaniaGene therapy
Nov 1999First evidence from mammals that epigenetic changes can be passed down generations Morgan, Sutherland, Martin, WhitelawUniversity of SydneyEpigenetics
Nov 1999Helsinki Group on Women and Science set up by European Commission    
16 Nov 1999Daniel Nathans diedNathans Johns Hopkins University Restriction enzymes, Recombinant DNA
6 Dec 1999Robert Swanson died in Hillsborough, California, USASwanson  
1999 - 2002Multi-centre trials with gene therapy using stem cells to treat children with SCIDBordignon Gene therapy
2000Complete sequences of the genomes of the fruit fly Drosophila and the first plant, Arabidopsis, are published  DNA Sequencing, Genomics
2000Adult stem cells recognised as having potential to generate variety of cells for other organsFrisenKarolinska InstitutetStem cells

Dec 1998

Complete genome sequence of the first multicellular organism, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, is published

20 Dec 1998

Alan Lloyd Hodgkin died

1999

First human chromosome sequence published

1999

Adult neural stem cells identified as capable of forming new neural stem cells

1999

Discovery of small interfering RNA (siRNA), very small stretches of double-stranded RNA, interfere with genes

1999

Athena Project set up in with mission to advance and promote careers of women in science, engineering and technology in UK higher education and research institutions

11 Feb 1999

Danish Ministry of Research and Information Technology launched initiative to promote women in science

21 Feb 1999

Gertrude B Elion died

10 Apr 1999

Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat died

10 Apr 1999

Disposable bioreactor developed

Jul 1999

Meeting of 70 European organisations in Brussels issues joint statement describing the under-representation of women in science as 'a serious obstacle for the development of the sciences and for European society'

20 Jul 1999

DNA methylation of CpG islands shown to be linked to colorectal cancer

Sep 1999

Death of the first patient in a gene therapy trial prompts major setback for the field

Nov 1999

First evidence from mammals that epigenetic changes can be passed down generations

Nov 1999

Helsinki Group on Women and Science set up by European Commission

16 Nov 1999

Daniel Nathans died

6 Dec 1999

Robert Swanson died in Hillsborough, California, USA

1999 - 2002

Multi-centre trials with gene therapy using stem cells to treat children with SCID

2000

Complete sequences of the genomes of the fruit fly Drosophila and the first plant, Arabidopsis, are published

2000

Adult stem cells recognised as having potential to generate variety of cells for other organs