Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Sherrington was a neurophysiologist, histologist, bacteriologist, and a pathologist who conducted research into the function of neurons. He shared the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping to show that reflexes need integrated activation. Prior to this reflexes were assumed to occur as an isolated activity within a reflex arc. Sherrington coined the terms synapse and neuron to describe parts of the nerve cell that receive or transmit nervous impulses between cells. 1857-11-27T00:00:00+0000Minkowski was a physiologist and pathologist who put forward the idea that diabetes was caused by the suppression of pancreatic substances. This was based on some experiments he carried out on dogs in 1898, which involved the surgical removal of the pancreas from the dogs and then testing their urine for glucose. His finding suggested that the pancreas contained regulators that could control blood sugar. Minkowski's work laid the foundation for the subsequent discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. 1858-01-13T00:00:00+0000Snow was an English physician who provided the first conclusive evidence that diseases like cholera and bubonic plague were caused by germs and not by pollution or bad air (miasma). In 1854 he was able to pinpoint the source of an outbreak of cholera in Soho, London, to a particular water pump. The outbreak was brought to an end after the pump's handle was removed. This work prompted major changes in the water and waste systems in London, which were soon followed in other cities, leading to a significant improvement in public health. Snow also made major extensive improvements to anaesthesia and the use of chloroform for use in childbirth. 1858-06-16T00:00:00+0000Eijkman was a physician and physiologist who helped demonstrate that a poor diet contributes to beriberi, a disease of the peripheral nerves. He first noticed the link in 1897 when by mistake his laboratory chickens were fed a diet of polished, rather than unpolished, rice. Ill-health prevented Eijkman from pinpointing which missing dietary component was important. It was subsequently found that a deficiency of vitamin B1, thiamine, contributed to beriberi. Eijkman shared the Nobel Prize in 1929 for his work in this field. 1858-08-11T00:00:00+0000Charles Darwin, English naturalist, publishes his theory of natural selection which establishes that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry.1859-01-01T00:00:00+0000Loeb was a physiologist and biologist who demonstrated the possibility of reproduction without male fertilisation, parthenogenesis, in sea urchin eggs. He found it was possible to stimulate embryonic development in the eggs of sea urchins without sperm by making slight chemical changes to the water where the eggs were kept. This he discovered while conducting experiments at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. His results were published in 'Activation of the unfertilized egg by ultra-violet rays', Science, 40/1036 (1914), 680-1. While Loeb was nominated for the Nobel Prize many times he never won. 1859-04-07T00:00:00+0000Together with Daniel E Salmon, Smith provided the first proof that killed bacteria could be used to induce immunity in experimental animals, in 1886. This laid the foundation for the subsequent development of protective immunisation in humans against bacterial diseases like typhoid and cholera. Smith also pioneered the use of the fermentation tube to study bacterial physiology and classification. Using this technique he managed to identify the causes of several infectious parasitic diseases, including Texas Cattle Fever caused by ticks. His delineation of the tick's life-cycle paved the way to controlling the disease by dipping cattle to kill the ticks. Smith's revelation that insects could transmit disease was a major breakthrough and laid the foundation for the investigation of yellow fever and malaria. Smith established the first department of bacteriology at a medical school in the United States - at Columbian University (now George Washington University). 1859-07-31T00:00:00+0000Biggs was a physician and pathologist who was a major leader in preventative medicine. He helped apply the science of bacteriology to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. For 22 years he maintained leadership roles in the New York City Health Department. In this position he introduced the use of diphtheria antitoxin to the United States and was active in the prevention and amelioration of tuberculosis.1859-09-29T00:00:00+0000Bayliss was a physiologist who, together with Ernest Starling, discovered the first hormone, in 1902. The two scientists named the hormone 'secretin' after the Greek word meaning to set in motion. The hormone helps secrete pancreatic juice when food enters the intestines. Bayliss subsequently worked out how trypsin, an enzyme, formed in the small intestine and the time it took to digest protein. He also saved the lives of many soldiers in World War I by recommending injections of gum-saline injections. This was based on his studies of wound shock. 1860-05-02T00:00:00+0000Buchner was a chemist and zymologist. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of cell-free fermentation. This was based on some experiments he carried out in 1897, during which he found that yeast extract could form alcohol from a sugar solution without any living cells. He discovered that the fermentation was driven by an enzyme, zymase, inside the yeast cells. It provided the first evidence that biochemical processes were driven by enzymes formed inside cells. He was killed in the First World War while serving as a general. 1860-05-20T00:00:00+000040,000 cases recorded1861-01-01T00:00:00+0000Hopkins was a biochemist who shared the 1929 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering vitamins and demonstrating they are an important nutrient in the diet. This was based on experiments he carried out on rats in 1901. He also helped establish the chemistry of muscle contraction, showing that lactic acid accumulates in working muscle in 1907. In 1922 he isolated and demonstrated the importance of tripeptide gluathione to the utilisation of oxygen by the cell. 1861-06-20T00:00:00+0000Stevens was an American biologist who was one of the first scientists to describe the importance of the Y chromosome for determining the sex of some species, and to recognise that females have two X chromosomes. The later she determined after noting male beetles produced two kinds of sperm: each with different sized chromosomes. In 1905 she was awarded $1000 for the best scientific paper written by a women. Five years later she was listed as one of America's leading 1000 scientists by The New York Times.1861-07-07T00:00:00+0000Wright was a bacteriologist and immunologist who pioneered the development of a vaccine against typhoid in the 1890s. Initially the British military authorities were reluctant to roll out the vaccine, but limited trials during the Boer War proved its value. Further trials conducted among 3,000 soldiers in India confirmed its efficacy and the War Office used it to vaccinate British troops at the outset of World War I. Wright also developed vaccines against enteric tuberculosis and pneumonia. He also instrumental in research to understand how blood enzymes make bacteria more susceptible to phagocytosis by white blood cells. 1861-08-10T00:00:00+0000Herrick was a physician and cardiologist who reported the first case of sickle-shaped red blood cells in 1910. These he found in the blood of a medical student from Grenada suffering from anaemia. Clinicians subsequently found that the condition, called sickle-cell anaemia, was inherited and was most common in black patients. Sickle-cell anemia was the first disease found to have a genetic cause. Herrick later also observed the first clinical features of coronary thrombosis. 1861-08-11T00:00:00+0000Nicolaier was a German physician who is renowned for having discovered the cause of tetanus - toxins produced by the pathogen Clostridium tetani, a ubiquitous organism that lives in the soil and the gut flora of animals. This paved the way to his development of an antitoxin to induce passive immunity against tentatus - the first measure that became available to prevent the disease. Nicolaier carried out this work in 1884 when he was just 22 years old and still a medical student. He later went on to help develop Urotropin, a urinary tract disinfectant, and Atrophan, an anti-inflammatory drug. Nicolaier was forced to give up his position as associate professor at the University Department of Medicine in Berlin in 1933 because of his Jewish background. In 1942 he took an overdose of morphine so as not to be transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp.1862-02-04T00:00:00+0000Bragg shared the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son, William Lawrence Bragg, for the development of X-ray crystallography. Using his experience of ionisation measurements, William H. Bragg managed to construct an X-ray spectrometer to investigate the properties of X-rays. He maintained an active interest in X-ray crystallography until his death. Sciences: 1862-07-02T00:00:00+0000Brodie was an English physiologist and surgeon who made his name investigating the beginnings of disease in different tissues that form a joint. His work paved the way to more conservative treatments in diseases of the joints, which helped to reduce the number of amputations and saved many limbs and lives. He was the first surgeon to become the president of the British General Medical council and to be elected president to the Royal Society. 1862-10-21T00:00:00+0000Calmette was a physician and bacteriologist who is credited with the discovery that the virulence of bovine tubercle bacilli is weakened when cultured on bile-containing medium. Discovered in 1908, this laid paved the way to the development of the tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). The vaccine was first used in newborn infants in Paris in 1921. Calmette also developed a diagnostic test for tuberculosis, known as Calmette's reaction. 1863-07-12T00:00:00+0000Yersin was a physician and bacteriologist who helped to discover the pathogen responsible for the bubonic plague in 1894. The plague bacillus was later named in his honour as Yersinia pestis. Following his discovery, Yersin managed to develop an anti-plague serum using pus excised from a plague victim which he successfully used to treat a Chinese student suffering from plague in 1896. Prior to his work on the plague bacillus, Yersin helped to discover the diphtheria toxin. 1863-09-22T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
27 Nov 1857Charles S Sherrington was born in London, UKSherringtonUniversity of London, University of Liverpool, Oxford UniversityNeuroscience
13 Jan 1858Oskar Minkowski was born in Aleksotas, Russian Empire (now Lithuania)MinkowskiUniversity of StrasbourgEndocrinology
16 Jun 1858John Snow diedSnow  
11 Aug 1858Christiaan Eijkman was born in Nijkerk, the NetherlandsEijkmanUtrecht UniversityNutrition
1859Darwin publishes 'On the Origin of Species'Darwin Evolution
7 Apr 1859Jacques Loeb was born in Mayen, Germany LoebRockefeller UniversityReproduction
31 Jul 1859Theobald Smith was born in Albany, New York, USASmithBureau of Animal Industry, George Washington UniversityInfectious diseases, Bacteriology
29 Sep 1859Hermann M Biggs was born in Trumansburg, NY, USA BiggsNew York City Health Department.Bacteriology, Infectious diseases
2 May 1860William M Bayliss was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, UKBaylissUniversity College LondonEndocrinology
20 May 1860Eduard Buchner was born in Munich, GermanyBuchnerUniversity of WurzburgBiochemistry
1861 - 1865Outbreaks of of jaundice noted in Union troops during American Civil War   
20 Jun 1861Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born in Eastbourne, UKHopkinsCambridge UniversityBiochemistry, Cell
7 Jul 1861Nettie Maria Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermon, USAStevensCarnegie Institute, Bryn Mawr CollegeGenetics
10 Aug 1861Almroth E Wright was born in Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire, UKWrightSt Mary's HospitalBacteriology, Immunology, Vaccines
11 Aug 1861James Bryan Herrick was born in Oak Park, Illinois, USAHerrickRush Medical CollegeGenetics
4 Feb 1862Arthur Nicolaier was born in Cossel, Germany (now Poland)NicolaierGottingen University, University of BerlinBacteriology
2 Jul 1862William Henry Bragg was born in Wigton, United KingdomBraggLeeds University, University College LondonX ray crystallography
21 Oct 1862Benjamin Collins Brodie diedBrodieSt George's HospitalSurgery
12 Jul 1863Albert Calmette was born in Nice, FranceCalmettePasteur InstituteVaccines
22 Sep 1863Alexandre Yersin born in Aubonne, Vaud, SwitzerlandYersin Bacteriology

27 Nov 1857

Charles S Sherrington was born in London, UK

13 Jan 1858

Oskar Minkowski was born in Aleksotas, Russian Empire (now Lithuania)

16 Jun 1858

John Snow died

11 Aug 1858

Christiaan Eijkman was born in Nijkerk, the Netherlands


Darwin publishes 'On the Origin of Species'

7 Apr 1859

Jacques Loeb was born in Mayen, Germany

31 Jul 1859

Theobald Smith was born in Albany, New York, USA

29 Sep 1859

Hermann M Biggs was born in Trumansburg, NY, USA

2 May 1860

William M Bayliss was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, UK

20 May 1860

Eduard Buchner was born in Munich, Germany

1861 - 1865

Outbreaks of of jaundice noted in Union troops during American Civil War

20 Jun 1861

Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born in Eastbourne, UK

7 Jul 1861

Nettie Maria Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermon, USA

10 Aug 1861

Almroth E Wright was born in Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire, UK

11 Aug 1861

James Bryan Herrick was born in Oak Park, Illinois, USA

4 Feb 1862

Arthur Nicolaier was born in Cossel, Germany (now Poland)

2 Jul 1862

William Henry Bragg was born in Wigton, United Kingdom

21 Oct 1862

Benjamin Collins Brodie died

12 Jul 1863

Albert Calmette was born in Nice, France

22 Sep 1863

Alexandre Yersin born in Aubonne, Vaud, Switzerland

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