Rockefeller University: Timeline of key events

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R.D. Hotchkiss, 'The quantative separation of purines, pyrimidines, and nucleosides by paper chromatography', J Biol Chem, 175/1 (1948), 315-32. 1948-03-10T00:00:00+0000Henry Kunkel, an American immunologist, while studying the blood of patients with myeloma (a type of cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow) unexpectedly discovers myeloma proteins to resemble normal antibodies.1951-01-01T00:00:00+0000Avery was a Canadian-American physician and bacteriologist who provided the first evidence that that genes are made up of DNA. In 1944 he and colleagues conducted a series of experiments in mice using two sets of bacteria, one smooth (virulent) and the other rough (nonvirulent), associated with pneumonia. In the first instance they injected the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which went on to die. Next they injected the non-virulent bacteria into a mouse, which survived. They then heated the virulent bacteria to kill it and injected it into a mouse, which survived. Following this they injected a mixture of heat-killed bacteria with the virulent bacteria into the mouse, which died. Finally they injected a mixture of harmless bacteria with DNA extracted from the heated lethal bacteria in a mouse which died. The experiment showed that the harmless bacteria became lethal when mixed with DNA from the virulent bacteria. 1955-02-02T00:00:00+0000MacKinnon is a molecular neurobiologist amnd biophysicist. In 1998 he helped to establish the 3-D structure of a potassium ion channel - a protein linked to transmitting electrical signals down the nerve and muscle cells. Such channels are important to the nervous system and the heart. They enable potassium ions to cross the cell membrane. By using X-ray crystallography MacKinnon and his colleagues managed to work out the structure of a potassium ion channel from an actinobacteria Streptomyces lividans. MacKinnon was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003 on the basis of this work. 1956-02-19T00:00:00+0000Independently Rodney Porter, a British scientist, and Gerald Edelman, an American biologist, determine the structure of antibodies to consist of heavy and light protein chains, which join together to form three sections yielding a molecule shaped like the letter Y.1962-01-01T00:00:00+0000Rivers was a bacteriologist and virologist whose development of a tissue culture for the vaccinia virus, in 1931, paved the way to the development of a vaccine against yellow-fever. He also made important contributions to understanding the viral causes of influenza and chickenpox. Rivers served as the director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1937-56) and chaired the virus research committee of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) (1938-1955) which oversaw the development of the Salk and Sabin vaccines against polio.1962-05-12T00:00:00+0000Gasser was an American physiologist. He shared the 1944 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering different fibers in nerves that conduct electrochemical pulses at different rates. Together with Josepph Erlanger he studied the barely detectable electrical impulses carried by mammalian nerve fibres. By 1924 they had managed to visualise amplified nerve impulses on a fluorescent screen. Their work demonstrated that one type of fiber conducts pain signals and others conduct motor control signals. Gasser was the director of the Rockefeller Institute from 1936 to 1953.1963-05-11T00:00:00+0000RW Schaedler, R Dubos, R Costello, 'The development of bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract of mice', Journal of Experimental Medicine, 122/1 (1965), 59-66. 1965-07-01T00:00:00+0000Stanley was an American biochemist and virologist. In 1935 he managed to crystalise the tobacco virus, the causative agent of plant disease. This was a major breakthrough because prior to this no scientists had succeeded in finding out what viruses were. His work laid the foundation for other scientists, using x-ray diffraction, to work out the precise molecular structures and reproduction process of several viruses. During World War II he managed to purify several of the most common influenza viruses and developed a vaccine that was partly effective. In 1946 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the 'preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form.' 1971-06-15T00:00:00+0000An American pathologist, Rous won the 1966 Nobel Prize for showing how viruses could cause cancer. He demonstrated this in 1910 by transplanting some material from a cancer tumour taken from a sick chicken into a healthy chicken. The healthy chicken developed cancer. Other scientists struggled to replicate his experiment in mammals so his discovery was initially dismissed. 1972-02-16T00:00:00+0000Stein was an American biochemist who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for contributing to understanding the composition and functioning of ribonuclease, an enzyme that catalyses the break down of RNA into smaller components. It was the first structure and sequence worked out for any enzyme. Stein carried out the work with his colleague Stanford Moore in 1963. The two scientists were aided by their invention of the first means for automated amino acid analysis. In addition to his work on ribonuclease, Stein showed how proteins that are comprised of the same amino acids can have very different characteristics and functions.1980-02-02T00:00:00+0000An American biochemist, Moore helped develop the first automated amino acid analyser in 1958. The machine transformed the ability to analyse the amino acid sequences of proteins. Together with William H Stein, Moore used the machine to determine the amino acid sequence of the ribonuclease molecule. Moore shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for this work. 1982-08-23T00:00:00+0000Claude was a Belgian physician and cell biologist. In 1930 he developed the process of cell fractionation which involves grinding up cells to break up the membrane and their contents. The material is then placed in a centrifuge to separate out the cells's components. Claude used the technique to identify and purify the RNA from the Rous sarcoma virus which causes cancer in chickens. He was also one of the first to use of the electron microscope to study biological cells, which enabled him to discover that ribosomes are the power houses of all cells. Later on Claude helped to show that all eukaryotic cells have a lace-work structure. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries concerning cell structure and function.1983-05-22T00:00:00+0000Northrop shared the 1946 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for helping to develop the technique for purifying and crystallising enzymes and virus proteins. His work showed that enzymes obey the laws of chemical reactions and that they are proteins. In 1930 he crystallised pepsin, an enzyme present in gastric juice necessary for digestion. Eight years later he isolated the first bacterial virus (bacteriophage). This he proved to be a nucleoprotein. Other enzymes that he managed to isolate and crystalise were trypsin and chymotrypsin, both important to the digestive process. 1987-05-27T00:00:00+0000Heidelberger was one of the founders of immunochemistrty, a branch of biochemistry that investigates the mammalian immune system at the molecular level. He first made his mark in 1923 when he found with Oswald Avery that that the immune system could target bacterial sugars. The two scientists made the discovery while investigating a capsular substance that envelops pneumococcus and other species of bacteria. Their work helped determine that antibodies were proteins. It also paved the way to improving the production of more effective serum therapies for the prevention of bacterial infectious like pneumonia and meningitis.1991-06-25T00:00:00+0000A geneticist by training, Sager enjoyed two careers. She first made her mark in the 1950s and 1950s when she discovered the transmission of genetic traits through chloroplast DNA. This was the first example of genetics not involving the cell nucleus. Later on, in the early 1970s, she became a major pioneer in cancer genetics. She was one of the first to propose and investigate the function of tumour suppressor genes. 1997-03-29T00:00:00+0000Chase was an American immunologist who in the early 1940s discovered that white blood cells trigger the immune response in the body confronting a foreign invader. His finding laid to rest the belief that antibodies by themselves could protect the body from allergies and pathogens. Chase also uncovered the second arm of the immune system, known as cell-mediated immunity, paving the way to the discovery of lymphocyte cells and B and T cells.2004-01-05T00:00:00+0000Merrifield was an American biochemist and organic chemist. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for inventing a process known as solid phase peptide synthesis. He developed the technique in 1965. It provided a methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix. By the mid-1960s he and his team had proved the method could be used to synthesise bradykinin, angiotensin, desamino-oxytocin and insulin. In 1969 they managed to synthesise the enzyme, ribonuclease A. This was the first proof of the chemical nature of enzymes. Merrifield's method is now a rountine method for automatically synthesising large proteins, novel nucleotides, or short fragments of DNA. 2006-05-14T00:00:00+0000Palade was a Romanian-American cell biologist who helped determine cell function and organisation. He and colleagues demonstrated that all plant cells and some animal and bacteria cells have a vacuole, an enclosed compartment in the cell membrane, which contains enzymes essential to maintaining the cell's health. In 1974 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation, which laid the foundation for molecular cell biology, and his discovery of the ribosomes of endoplastic reticulum in 1955. 2008-10-07T00:00:00+0000Zinder was an American biologist who discovered how hereditary information is transferred from one organism to another. The process is known as genetic transduction. Carrying out experiments with the bacteria species Salmonella, Zinder discovered that bacteriophages, a type of virus, carry genes from one bacterium to another. He did the work with Joshua Lederberg, his doctoral supervisor. 2012-02-03T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
Mar 1948Hotchkiss discovered the first naturally modifed DNA nucleotide, cytosine, in a chromatography of calf thymus DNAHotchkissRockefeller InstituteEpigenetics
1951Myeloma cells found to resemble normal antibodiesKunkelRockefeller UniversityAntibodies
2 Feb 1955Oswald T Avery diedAveryRockefeller UniversityDNA, Genetics
19 Feb 1956Roderick MacKinnon was born in Burlington MA, USAMackinnonRockefeller UniversityBiochemistry, X ray crystallography
1962Antibodies discovered to have structure like a 'Y'Porter, EdelmanNational Institute for Medical Research, Rockefeller University Antibodies
12 May 1962Thomas M Rivers diedRiversRockefeller Institute Virology, Bacteriology, Vaccines
11 May 1963Herbert Spencer Gasser diedGasserRockefeller InstituteNeuroscience
1 Jul 1965Experiments in germ-free mice show microbes essential to physiology and health of gastrointestinal tractDubos, Schaedler, Savage, CostelloRockefeller InstituteMicrobiome
15 Jun 1971Wendell M Stanley diedStanleyRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry, Virology, Vaccine
16 Feb 1972Francis Peyton Rous diedRousRockefeller UniversityVirology, Oncology
2 Feb 1980William H Stein diedSteinRockefeller UniversityRNA, Biochemistry
23 Aug 1982Stanford Moore diedMooreRockefeller UniversityBiochemistry
22 May 1983Albert Claude died ClaudeRockefeller Institute, Jules Bordet Institute, University of BrusselsCell
May 1987John H Northrop diedNorthropRockefeller Institute Biochemistry
25 Jun 1991Michael Heidelberger died in New York City, USAHeidelbergerRockefeller Institute, Columbia UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
29 Mar 1997Ruth Sager diedSagerRockefeller UniversityGenetics, Oncology
5 Jan 2004Merrill W Chase diedChaseRockefeller UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
14 May 2006Robert Bruce Merrifield diedMerrifieldRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry
7 Oct 2008George E Palade diedPaladeRockefeller UniversityCell
3 Feb 2012Norton David Zinder diedZinderRockefeller UniversityGenetics

Mar 1948

Hotchkiss discovered the first naturally modifed DNA nucleotide, cytosine, in a chromatography of calf thymus DNA


Myeloma cells found to resemble normal antibodies

2 Feb 1955

Oswald T Avery died

19 Feb 1956

Roderick MacKinnon was born in Burlington MA, USA


Antibodies discovered to have structure like a 'Y'

12 May 1962

Thomas M Rivers died

11 May 1963

Herbert Spencer Gasser died

1 Jul 1965

Experiments in germ-free mice show microbes essential to physiology and health of gastrointestinal tract

15 Jun 1971

Wendell M Stanley died

16 Feb 1972

Francis Peyton Rous died

2 Feb 1980

William H Stein died

23 Aug 1982

Stanford Moore died

22 May 1983

Albert Claude died

22 May 1983

John H Northrop died

25 Jun 1991

Michael Heidelberger died in New York City, USA

29 Mar 1997

Ruth Sager died

5 Jan 2004

Merrill W Chase died

14 May 2006

Robert Bruce Merrifield died

7 Oct 2008

George E Palade died

3 Feb 2012

Norton David Zinder died