Genetics: Timeline of key events

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Hershey 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+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+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+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+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+0000Michael Smith shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for a technique that enables researchers to introduce specific mutations into genes and, thus, to the proteins that they encode. He developed the method, known as site-directed mutagenesis, in the 1970s, in collaboration with Fred Sanger and Clyde A Hutchinson III. The advantage of the technique was that it allowed comparisons to be made of different protein molecules and provide a means to deliberately alter a specific gene thereby making it possible to modify the characteristics of an organism. His work opened up a new chapter for studying and treating genetic diseases. Site-directed mutagenesis is a pivotal tool today in genetic and protein research and engineering and at the forefront of the development of monoclonal antibody drugs. 2000-10-04T00:00:00+00002001-01-01T00:00:00+0000Research led by Frank J Rauscher, published in Genes and Development.2002-04-14T00:00:00+0000Research carried out by Ramin Shiekhattar published in Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2002-08-20T00:00:00+00002004-01-01T00:00:00+0000Lewis was an American developmental geneticist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. He made these discoveries based on the fruit fly. By crossbreeding thousands of flies he demonstrated that genes were arranged on the chromosome in the same order as their body segments, whereby the first set of genes controls the development of the head and thorax, the middle set the abdomen, and the final set the hind parts. He also discovered that the genetic regulatory functions could overlap. A fly with a defective gene in the thoracic region could develop an extra set of wings. His work helped explain the causes of congenital deformities. 2004-07-21T00:00:00+0000Crick shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 for 'discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.'2004-07-28T00:00:00+0000A New Zealand biophysicist, Wikins helped develop x-ray diffraction techniques to determine the structure of DNA. 2004-10-05T00:00:00+0000Study conducted by team led by Shelley Berger published in Molecular Cell.2005-02-17T00:00:00+0000Drug made by MGI Pharma. approved for treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes, bone marrow disorders2006-01-01T00:00:00+0000Drug made by Merck & Co2006-10-06T00:00:00+0000Lederberg is best known for having discovered the lambda phage, an indispensable tool for studying gene regulation and genetic recombination. She also invented the replica plating technique which is pivotal to tracking antibiotic resistance. 2006-11-11T00:00:00+0000Kornberg was an American biochemist renowned for his research on enzymes which create DNA. In 1956 he and his team isolated the first enzyme known to be involved in the replication of DNA. It would be called DNA polymerase I. For this work Kornberg shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The Prize was given for the discovery of the 'mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.'2007-10-26T00:00:00+0000Achieved by Emmanuel Skordalakes2008-01-01T00:00:00+0000Lederberg was an American geneticist who helped discover the mechanism of genetic recombination in bacteria. This was based on some experiments he performed with Edward Tatum in 1946 which involved the mixing two different strains of bacteria. Their experiments also demonstrated for the first time that bacteria reproduced sexually, rather than by cells splitting in two, thereby proving that bacterial genetic systems were similar to those of multicelluar organisms. Later on, in 1952, working with Norton Zinder, Lederberg found that certain bacteriophages (viruses that affect bacteria) could carry a bacterial gene from one bacterium to another. In 1958 Lederberg shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organisation of the genetic material of bacteria.' 2008-02-02T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
22 May 1997Alfred D Hershey diedHersheyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonGenetics, Virology
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
10 Apr 1999Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat diedFraenkel-Conrat University of California BerkeleyGenetics, Virology
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
Nov 1999First evidence from mammals that epigenetic changes can be passed down generations Morgan, Sutherland, Martin, WhitelawUniversity of SydneyEpigenetics
4 Oct 2000Michael Smith diedSmithUniversity of British ColumbiaGene editing, Genetics, Monoclonal antibodies
2001Pharmion licenses azacitidine from Pharmacia and Upjohn to Pharmacia's azacityidine technology, patents and clinical data  Epigenetics
Apr 2002Identification of new enzyme for silencing certain genes, opening new avenues for cancer treatmentsRauscherWistar InstituteGenetics
20 Aug 2002Link identified between genes responsible for neurofibromatosis, a common neurological disorder, and a protein thought to play role in Alzheimer's diseaseShiekhattarWistar InstituteNeuroscience, Genetics
2004FDA approved first DNA methylation inhibitor drug, azacitidine (Vidaza®), for treatment of rare bone marrow disorder  DNA methylation, Epigenetics
21 Jul 2004Edward B Lewis diedLewisCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Embryology
28 Jul 2004Francis H C Crick diedCrickLaboratory of Molecular BiologyDNA, Genetics
5 Oct 2004Maurice H F Wilkins diedWilkinsKing's College LondonDNA, Genetics
Feb 2005Enzyme Ubp10 demonstrated to protect the genome from potential destabilising molecular eventsBerger, EmreWistar InstituteDNA, Genetics
2006FDA approved second DNA methylation inhibitior, decatabine (Dacogen)  DNA methylation, Epigenetics
6 Oct 2006FDA approved first histone deacetylase inhibitor, Vorinostat (Zolinza), for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma  Epigenetics, Oncology
11 Nov 2006Esther Lederberg diedLederbergWisconsin UniversityGenetics, Antimicrobial resistance, Bacteriophages, Lambda phage
26 Oct 2007Arthur Kornberg diedKornbergStanford UniversityGenetics, DNA, RNA
2008Structure of telomerase, an enzyme that conserves the ends of chomosomes, was decoded Wistar InstituteDNA, genetics
2 Feb 2008Joshua Lederberg diedLederbergUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Plasmids, Recombinant DNA

22 May 1997

Alfred D Hershey died

Feb 1998

Double stranded RNA demonstrated to be potent mechanism for silencing genes

10 Apr 1999

Heinz Ludwig Fraenkel-Conrat died

20 Jul 1999

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

Nov 1999

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

4 Oct 2000

Michael Smith died

2001

Pharmion licenses azacitidine from Pharmacia and Upjohn to Pharmacia's azacityidine technology, patents and clinical data

Apr 2002

Identification of new enzyme for silencing certain genes, opening new avenues for cancer treatments

20 Aug 2002

Link identified between genes responsible for neurofibromatosis, a common neurological disorder, and a protein thought to play role in Alzheimer's disease

2004

FDA approved first DNA methylation inhibitor drug, azacitidine (Vidaza®), for treatment of rare bone marrow disorder

21 Jul 2004

Edward B Lewis died

28 Jul 2004

Francis H C Crick died

5 Oct 2004

Maurice H F Wilkins died

Feb 2005

Enzyme Ubp10 demonstrated to protect the genome from potential destabilising molecular events

2006

FDA approved second DNA methylation inhibitior, decatabine (Dacogen)

6 Oct 2006

FDA approved first histone deacetylase inhibitor, Vorinostat (Zolinza), for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

11 Nov 2006

Esther Lederberg died

26 Oct 2007

Arthur Kornberg died

2008

Structure of telomerase, an enzyme that conserves the ends of chomosomes, was decoded

2 Feb 2008

Joshua Lederberg died