Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Oscar 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+0000Agramonte was a physician, pathologist and bacteriologist who discovered the role of the mosquito in the transmission of yellow fever in 1901. He made the discovery while working as a professor of bacteriology and experimental pathology at the University of Havana and assistant surgeon with the US Army. An influential leader of scientific medicine in Cuba, Agramonte originally trained in medicine at Columbia University. In addition to his research on yellow fever, Agramonte studied the transmission of plague, dengue, trachoma, malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and other infectious diseases.1868-06-03T00:00:00+0000Landsteiner was an immunologist and pathologist who has been called the founder of transfusion medicine. In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the main human blood types (A, B and O), published in 1901, and for his development of the ABO system of blood typing which enabled blood transfusion to become a safe medical procedure. In 1909 he also helped discover the microorganism responsible for poliovirus which provided the foundation for the development of the polio vaccine. He also discovered the Rh factor in 1940. This is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. This can cause problems in pregnancy for women with the Rh-negative blood group whose foetus has the Rh-positive blood group. 1868-06-14T00:00:00+0000Wollstein was a pioneer paediatric pathologist at a time when women rarely worked in the field of pathology. One of her key contributions was the development of antiserum therapies to treat both paediatric and adult infectious diseases, including a potent polyvalent antiserum to treat meningitis. She was the first woman to ever be elected a member of the American Pediatric Society. In 1904 she joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research where she did important experimental work on polio, pneumonia and other diseases. Her work was important for showing that mumps could be viral in nature. 1868-11-21T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
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 
3 Jun 1868Aristides Agramonte y Simoni was born in Camaguey, CubaAgramonteUniversity of HavanaBacteriology, Pathology, Infectious diseases
14 Jun 1868Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna, AustriaLandsteinerRockefeller InstituteImmunology
21 Nov 1868Martha Wollstein was born in New York City, USAWollsteinRockefeller Institute for Medical ResearchAntibodies, Infectious diseases

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


Laws of inheritance established


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


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)

3 Jun 1868

Aristides Agramonte y Simoni was born in Camaguey, Cuba

14 Jun 1868

Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna, Austria

21 Nov 1868

Martha Wollstein was born in New York City, USA

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