Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Brodie 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 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+0000Oscar Hertwig, Albrecht von Kolliker, Eduard Strasburger, and August Weismann independently show the cell's nucleus contains the basis for inheritance.1864-01-01T00:00:00+0000Alzheimer was the psychiatrist and neuropathlogist who is credited with identifying the disease named after him. He first came across the disease in 1901 when a 51 year old female woman, Auguste Deter, was admitted to Frankfurt asylum. Her symptoms included a loss of short-term memory. Alzheimer was able to examine her brain after she died in 1906. Using staining techniques he found her brain contained amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, abnormalities that are now associated with Alzheimer's disease. 1864-06-14T00:00:00+0000Ivanovsky was a microbiologist who was one of the first scientists to discover viruses. He made the discovery based on a request to investigate a disease that was destroying tobacco crops in the Ukraine, which he carried out while a doctoral student. Initially he believed the destruction was due to mosaic disease, which was commonly linked to bacteria. He then noticed that sap filtered from the diseased plants could transfer the infection to healthy plants. With the microorganism proving invisible even under the highest magnification and able to permeate porcelain filters designed to trap bacteria, Ivanosky concluded the causal agent was an extremely tiny infectious agent. He first described his findings in an article in 1882 and then in a dissertation in 1902. 1864-11-09T00:00:00+0000Conducting experiments breeding peas, Gregor Mendel, Austrian scientist, demonstrates that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular patterns. This lays the foundation for what was to become known as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. Athough Mendel's theory was not recognised until the early 20th century, Mendel's work established the general principles for modern genetics. 1865-01-01T00:00:00+0000R. Virchow, 'Ueber das Vockommn und den Nacweis des hepatogenen. inspersondere des katarrhalischen Icterus', Vichows Arch Pathol Anat, (1865), 32, 117-25.1865-01-01T00:00:00+0000Picotte was the first Native American woman to gain a medical degree in the USA. She was first inspired to train as a physician when as a child she witnessed a sick Indian woman die because the local white doctor refused to care for her. Picotte opened a hospital in the reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska and set up a private practice to look after both white and non-white patients. She was a strong campaigner to prohibit alcohol on reservations. 1865-06-17T00:00:00+0000Murray was a physician who pioneered the treatment of endocrine disorders. In 1891 he found a successful means of treating myxedema, a severe form of thyroid deficiency, by injecting patients with thyroid extracted from sheep. In order to get the extract he cut the thyroid out of the sheep, strained it through a handkerchief and then prepared emulsions of dried thyroid in glycerine. The patient survived for another 28 years. Murray carried out the work while working at the Royal Infirmary in Newcastle. 1865-06-20T00:00:00+0000Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician of ethnic-German ancestry who in 1847 found that hand-washing with chlorinated lime solutions could dramatically reduce the number of women dying in childbirth from puerperal fever. He developed his method based on his observation that puerperal fever killed as many as 3 out 10 women who gave birth in hospital, but was rare among those who had home births. Believing the disease was possibly transmitted by doctors he insisted that all those who worked under him washed their hands in chemicals between patient examinations. Despite his success in reducing maternal mortality, his method was rejected during his life-time. It only became widespread after the rise of germ theory. 1865-08-13T00:00:00+0000Remak was a Polish-German embryologist, physiologist and neurologist who is best known for showing that all cells come from the division of pre-existing cells. He first made this discovery while observing red blood cells from chicken embryos in various stages of division. Later on he confirmed the same process happened in the cell of every frog's egg immediately after fertilisation. Remak also discovered unmyelinated nerve fibers and the nerve cells in the heart. Despite his achievements, Remak never gained a full position as professor because of his Jewish background. 1865-08-29T00:00:00+0000Harden was one of the key founders of British biochemistry. He won the 1929 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for working out the importance of two enzymes and phosphoric acid during the fermentation process. These he discovered while investigating the fermentation of sugars by bacteria, a project undertaken between 1900 and 1914 that was designed to find a way of differentiating between different groups of Escherichia coli. The work involved grinding bacteria and extracting the intracellular juices.1865-10-12T00:00:00+0000Ernst Haeckel, German biologist and philosopher, proposes the cell nucleus contains factors responsible for the transmission of hereditary traits.1866-01-01T00:00:00+0000Achoff was a physician and pathologist who in 1924 uncovered the reticuloendothelial system. The system is made up of the cells found in various tissues that are phagocytic (capable of engulfing bacteria and other substances). Aschoff also did important investigations into appendicitis, gallstones, jaundice, scurvy, and thrombosis and in 1904 outlined the inflammatory process that is characteristic of rheumatic fever. 1866-01-10T00:00:00+0000Hodgkin was a renowned British pathologist who in 1932 provided the first description of Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that originates from a specific type of white blood cells in lymphoma. His work opened up the start of the active involvement of pathologists in the clinical diagnosis and management of disease. He also helped to get histology recognised as a discipline. Hodgkin was one of the earliest promoters of preventative medicine. 1866-04-05T00:00:00+0000Nicolle was a French bacteriologist who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903 for identifying lice as the transmission vector for epidemic typhus and by working out how tick fever is transmitted. He also to helped discover the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, a common infection that is usually harmless but can cause serious problems in some people. Nicolle also developed a vaccine for Malta fever, a disease now called brucellosis. 1866-09-21T00:00:00+0000Morgan is considered the father of the modern science of genetics. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1933 for demonstrating how genes carried on chromosomes are the mechanical basis of hereditary. This he determined based on some cross-breeding experiments with the fruit fly (Drosophila) that he conducted between 1908 and 1911. 1866-09-25T00:00:00+0000Fibiger published the first randomisation method for a clinical trial. The aim of the trial, conducted in 1898, was to investigate the effect of serum therapy on diphtheria. Fibiger would later go on to win the 1926 Nobel Prize for Medicine for demonstrating a roundworm could cause stomach cancer in rats and mice. Following his death researchers showed that the roundworm could not cause cancer and were due to vitamin deficiency and that Fibiger had mistakenly confused non-cancerous tumours for cancerous tumours in his experiments. 1867-04-23T00:00:00+0000Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, in 1903, and the first person to win it twice, in 1911. She developed techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered the two elements, polonium and radium. Curie also pioneered the use of radioactive isotopes to treat cancer and developed mobile radiography mobile unites to provide X-ray services in field hospitals during World War I. Throughout her life Curie experienced major challenges because of her sex. Denied a regular university education in Poland, her home country, because she was a woman, she had to study in France to get her degree. In 1903 the French Academy of Sciences tried to keep her name off its list of Nobel Prize nominees and the Swedish Academy of Sciences asked her not to attend the Nobel ceremony in 1911 because of negative publicity surrounding her personal life.1867-11-07T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
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
1864 - 1865Nucleus shown to contain genetic substanceHertwig, von Kolliker, Strasburger, Weismann University of Munich, University of Wurzburg, University of FreiburgGenetics, DNA
14 Jun 1864Alois Alzheimer was born in Markbreit, GermanyAlzheimerFrankfurt AsylumNeuroscience
9 Nov 1864Dmitry Iosifovich Ivanovsky was born in Gdov, RussiaIvanovskyUniversity of St PetersburgVirology
1865Laws of inheritance establishedMendelAbbey of St Thomas, Brno, Austro-Hungarian EmpireGenetics
1865Rudolf Virchow, renowned pathologist, argued jaundice caused by deranged cellular functionVirchow  
17 Jun 1865Susan LaFlesche Picotte was born on the Omaha Reservation, USALaFlesche Picotte   
20 Jun 1865George R Murray was born in Newcastle-upon Tyne, UKGeorge MurrayRoyal Infirmary EdinburghEndicronology
13 Aug 1865Ignaz P Semmelweis diedSemmelweisVienna General HospitalBacteriology
29 Aug 1865Robert Remak diedRemak Embryology, Cell, Neurology
12 Oct 1865Arthur Harden was born in Manchester, UKHardenLondon UniversityBiochemistry
1866Theory that cell's nucleus contains genetic substanceHaeckelUniversity of JenaCell, Genetics
10 Jan 1866K A Ludwig Aschoff was born in Berlin, Germany (formerly Prussia)AschoffUniversity of Marburg, University of FreiburgPathology
5 Apr 1866Thomas Hodgkin diedThomas HodgkinSt Thomas's Hospital, Guy's HospitalOncology
21 Sep 1866Charles J H Nicolle was born in Rouen, FranceNicolle Vaccines
25 Sep 1866Thomas Hunt Morgan was born in Lexington KY, USAMorganColumbia University, California Institute of TechnologyGenetics
23 Apr 1867Johannes A G Fibiger was born in Silkeborg, DenmarkFibigerSilkeborg, DenmarkAntibodies, Oncology, Clinical trial
7 Nov 1867Marie Curie, nee Sklodowska, born in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)CurieWarsaw 

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

1864 - 1865

Nucleus shown to contain genetic substance

14 Jun 1864

Alois Alzheimer was born in Markbreit, Germany

9 Nov 1864

Dmitry Iosifovich Ivanovsky was born in Gdov, Russia

1865

Laws of inheritance established

1865

Rudolf Virchow, renowned pathologist, argued jaundice caused by deranged cellular function

17 Jun 1865

Susan LaFlesche Picotte was born on the Omaha Reservation, USA

20 Jun 1865

George R Murray was born in Newcastle-upon Tyne, UK

13 Aug 1865

Ignaz P Semmelweis died

29 Aug 1865

Robert Remak died

12 Oct 1865

Arthur Harden was born in Manchester, UK

1866

Theory that cell's nucleus contains genetic substance

10 Jan 1866

K A Ludwig Aschoff was born in Berlin, Germany (formerly Prussia)

5 Apr 1866

Thomas Hodgkin died

21 Sep 1866

Charles J H Nicolle was born in Rouen, France

25 Sep 1866

Thomas Hunt Morgan was born in Lexington KY, USA

23 Apr 1867

Johannes A G Fibiger was born in Silkeborg, Denmark

7 Nov 1867

Marie Curie, nee Sklodowska, born in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)

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