Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Galton is best known for having ignited the debate about 'Nature versus Nurture' in 1869 and coined the term 'Eugenics' in 1883. Inspired by his cousin Charles Darwin's work, he developed a programme of research to understand human variation, looking at their differences in mental capabilities and height to facial characteristics and fingerprint patterns. He pioneered the use of statistical methods to determine human differences and how intelligence and physical traits are passed down through families. 1822-02-16T00:00:00+0000Mendel is today considered the father of modern genetics. An Augustinian monk, Mendel helped establish the basic laws of genetic inheritance by studying the traits between different pea plant generations. Mendel conducted this research between 1853 and 1863. Based on experiments with tens of thousands of different plants, Mendel established that peas followed certain patterns in terms of the traits they inherited. He published his results in 1866, but he did little to promote his work. The importance of his work was only grasped many decades later after his death. 1822-07-20T00:00:00+0000Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who is best known for inventing a sterilisation method for slowing down the development of microbes in milk and wine, a process now called pasteurisation. He also made significant breakthroughs in understanding the causes and prevention of bacterial diseases. His work was instrumental in helping to reduce the mortality rate from puerperal fever, a major cause of death for women in childbirth in the 19th century. Pasteur also pioneered the first rabies vaccine.1822-12-27T00:00:00+0000Jenner was an English physician who helped pioneer the smallpox vaccine based on his hypothesis that the pus in blisters milkmaids received from cowpox protected them from smallpox. To test out his theory in 1796 he inoculated the 8 year old son of his gardener with pus taken from the cowpox blisters of a local milkmaid. While the boy suffered a fever he showed now sign of infection with smallpox. Jenner then injected the child with smallpox material, a common method of immunisation at the time, known as variolation. Again he showed no sign of infection. Jenner then tested out the same technique in 23 further people. Based on his success, in 1840 the British government decided to outlaw variolation and instead provide Jenner's method for free to prevent smallpox. Jenner's work laid the foundation for immunisation as a method for preventing disease and for contemporary discoveries in immunology. 1823-01-26T00:00:00+0000A chemist and physiologist, Hoppe-Seyler helped pioneer the disciplines of biochemistry and molecular biology. He studied fluids of the body such as blood, haemoglobin, pus, bile, milk, and urine and was the first to crystallise haemoglobin and observe its absorption spectrum. In addition he performed several important studies on chlorophyll and isolated several different proteins. Hoppe-Seyler lost both of his parents by the time he was nine years old and spent some of his childhood in an orphan asylum in Halle. He was subsequently adopted by Georg Seyler, the husband of his older sister.1825-12-26T00:00:00+0000The observation was made by Carl Ernst von Baer while investigating the ovary of a dog. 1826-01-01T00:00:00+0000The term was used by Karl Ernst Baer, a Baltic German anatomist and zoologist. Before this time sperm were known as 'animalcules. 1827-01-01T00:00:00+0000Villemin was a physician who demonstrated that tuberculosis is an infectious disease. He did this by inoculating a rabbit with tuberculosis material taken from a dead patient. The rabbit developed tuberculosis lesions three months later. Villemin also found that rabbits developed the disease when inoculated with tuberculosis material taken from cows. Initially his findings, presented in 1867, were dismissed by his contemporaries because it went against the belief that tuberculosis was a hereditary disease. Villemin subsequently showed that injections of sputum and blood from tubercular patients could transmit the disease to animals. 1827-01-28T00:00:00+0000Lister pioneered the practice of cleanliness in surgery by introducing the routine use of carbolic acid on surgical instruments and wounds. He developed these methods at Glasgow Royal Infirmary after being inspired by the work of Louis Pasteur. Lister's ideas about the transmission of infection and the use of antiseptics were initially mocked by his peers and it took time for the surgeons to accept them. The adoption of Lister's techniques dramatically reduced the incidence of post-operative infections and improved the safety of surgery. 1827-04-05T00:00:00+0000Hutchinson was a physician and pathologist who is renowned for his life-long study of congenital syphilis. He provided the first definitive description of the medical signs for the disease: notched incisor teeth, labyrinthine deafness, and interstitial keratitis. This provided a useful means for diagnosing the disease before the discovery of Treponema pallidum bacteria and development of the Wassermann test. Hutchinson was also the first to identify an inflammatory disease, then called 'Hutchinson's disease', but now known as sarcoidosis. 1828-07-23T00:00:00+0000Lamarck was a French biologist who proposed that physical traits were inherited through generations by two forces. The first force was alchemical and the second was environmental. He first outlined his theory of evolution in a lecture in 1802. While discredited for many years, Lamark's theory that organisms can acquire physical traits from their environment and pass these on to their offspring has resurfaced with the rise of epigenetics, a science that seeks to understand how chemical modifications to genes and proteins made in one generation are passed on to the next one. 1829-12-18T00:00:00+0000The enzyme, diastase, was discovered by the French chemist Anselme Payen. It was published in A Payen, JF Persoz, 'Mémoire sur la diastase, les principaux produits de ses réactions et leurs applications aux arts industriels, 53 (1833), 73-92. 1833-01-01T00:00:00+0000Finlay was an epidemiologist who is renowned for his pioneering research on yellow fever. He was the first to theorise that the mosquito carries the organism that causes yellow fever. Finlay first proposed this idea in 1881 to the International Sanitary Conference. A year later he identified the specific mosquito species, Culex fasciatus (now known as Aedes aegypti), that carries the disease. Despite his discovery, Findlay's work went largely unheeded until 1900 when the US Army Yellow Fever Board confirmed his findings. This paved the way to measures to control the mosquito population to prevent the spread of yellow fever. 1833-12-03T00:00:00+0000Klebs was a physician and bacteriologist who in 1883 discovered the bacillus that causes diphtheria (Corynebacterium diphtheriae). Renowned for his work on infectious diseases, his research laid the foundation for modern bacteriology. He was the first to successfully inoculate syphilis in monkeys, in 1878, and to isolate colonies of bacteria. In addition he was the first to show it was possible to cause tuberculosis in animals by injecting milk from infected cows and the first to identify the typhoid bacillus (now called Salmonella typhi). 1834-02-06T00:00:00+0000Jackson is considered one of the founders of modern neurology. He was one of the first to determine structural brain damage can cause abnormal mental states. Jackson showed that epileptic convulsions were linked to lesions of the motor region of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain. Much of the conceptual framework for clinical neurophysiology today is based on a systematic analytical methods for anatomy, pathology and physiology that Jackson developed. 1835-04-04T00:00:00+0000Garrett Anderson was the first woman to qualify as a woman in Britain (1865) and the first woman to receive a medical degree in France (1870). Unable to take up a medical post in any hospital in Britain, Garrett Anderson opened her own practice and in 1866 opened the St Mary's Dispensary for Women and Children. She subsequently co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women (later called the Royal Free Hospital of Medicine). It was the first hospital to be staffed by women and to train women doctors. Garrett Anderson was dean of the hospital's medical school from 1883-1903. .1836-06-19T00:00:00+0000Allbutt was an English physician who is renowned for inventing the short clinical thermometer. He introduced the instrument in 1866. It was a marked improvement on the previous foot-long thermometer which took 20 minutes to register a patient's temperature. In 1871 he introduced the use of the ophthalmoscope to inspect the interior of the eye. A few years later, in 1894, Allbutt determined that the painful heart condition angina pectoris stems from the aorta. 1836-07-20T00:00:00+0000Kuhne was a physiologist who coined the term 'enzyme' after his discovery of the protein-digesting enzyme trypsin in 1876. Early on in his career Kuhne worked on the physiology of muscle. In later years he turned to looking at the chemistry of digestion. Kuhne is also known for having helped to elucidate the chemical changes that occur in the retina under the influence of light. 1837-03-28T00:00:00+0000The Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius first proposed term to describe a single substance that was a component of living matter.1838-01-01T00:00:00+0000Cohnheim was a renowned pathologist who was the first to freeze pathological specimens for examination. he also helped to determine the morbid changes that inflammation, tuberculosis and other diseases cause to animal tissue. In addition he developed the classification now used for tumours, for example carcinomas, fibroma, and sarcoma. His theory of the causes of embolism also opened up new methods for medical treatment. 1839-07-20T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
16 Feb 1822Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, UKGaltonUniversity College LondonGenetics
20 Jul 1822Gregor Johann Mendel was born in Hyncice, Czech RepublicMendelHyncice, Czech RepublicGenetics
27 Dec 1822Louis Pasteur was bornPasteurPasteur InstituteBacteriology
26 Jan 1823Edward Jenner diedJenner Immunology, Vaccines, Infectious diseases
26 Dec 1825Felix Hoppe-Seyler was born in GermanyHoppe-SeylerUniversity of TubingenBiochemistry
1826First observation of a mammalian egg in the ovaryvon Baer Konigsberg UniversityReproduction
1827Term 'spermatozoa' introduced for the first timevon BaerSt Petersburg Academy of SciencesReproduction
28 Jan 1827Jean-Antoine Villemin was born in Prey, Vosages, FranceVillemin Infectious diseases
5 Apr 1827Joseph Lister was born in West Ham, London, UKListerGlasgow University, King's College London 
23 Jul 1828Jonathan Hutchinson was born in Selby, Yorkshire, UKHutchinson  
18 Dec 1829Jean-Baptiste Lamarck diedLamarckFrench Academy of SciencesEpigenetics, Genetics
1833The first enzymes were isolatedPayen, Persoz  
3 Dec 1833Carlos J Finlay was born in Puerto Príncipe, CubaFinlay Infectious diseases
6 Feb 1834Edwin Klebs was born in Konigsberg, Prussia (now Germany)KlebsUniversity of BernBacteriology, Infectious diseases
4 Apr 1835John H Jackson was born in Green Hampton, Yorkshire, United KingdomJacksonNational Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryNeuroscience
19 Jun 1836Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was bornGarrett AndersonRoyal Free Hospital 
20 Jul 1836Thomas Clifford Allbutt was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, UKAllbuttUniversity of CambridgeDiagnostics, Cardiovascular
28 Mar 1837Willhelm Kuhne was born in Hamburg, GermanyKuhneUniversity of HeidelbergBiochemistry, Physiology
1838The term 'protein' first coinedBerzeliusRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 
20 Jul 1839Julius F Cohnheim born Demmin, Pomerania, GermanyCohnheimUniversity of Kiel, University of Breslau, University of LeipzigPathology, Oncology

16 Feb 1822

Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, UK

20 Jul 1822

Gregor Johann Mendel was born in Hyncice, Czech Republic

27 Dec 1822

Louis Pasteur was born

26 Jan 1823

Edward Jenner died

26 Dec 1825

Felix Hoppe-Seyler was born in Germany


First observation of a mammalian egg in the ovary


Term 'spermatozoa' introduced for the first time

28 Jan 1827

Jean-Antoine Villemin was born in Prey, Vosages, France

5 Apr 1827

Joseph Lister was born in West Ham, London, UK

23 Jul 1828

Jonathan Hutchinson was born in Selby, Yorkshire, UK

18 Dec 1829

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck died


The first enzymes were isolated

3 Dec 1833

Carlos J Finlay was born in Puerto Príncipe, Cuba

6 Feb 1834

Edwin Klebs was born in Konigsberg, Prussia (now Germany)

4 Apr 1835

John H Jackson was born in Green Hampton, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

19 Jun 1836

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was born

20 Jul 1836

Thomas Clifford Allbutt was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, UK

28 Mar 1837

Willhelm Kuhne was born in Hamburg, Germany


The term 'protein' first coined

20 Jul 1839

Julius F Cohnheim born Demmin, Pomerania, Germany

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