Virology: Timeline of key events

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Griffin was a leading expert on viruses that cause cancer. She was the first woman appointed to Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital. In 1980 she completed the sequence of the poliovirus, the longest piece of eukaryotic DNA to be sequenced at that time. She devoted her life to understanding the Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of Burkitt's Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer.1930-01-23T00:00:00+0000Temin was a geneticist and virologist who shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on the interactions between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell. In 1969 he demonstrated that certain tumour viruses carry the ability to reverse the flow of information from RNA back to DNA using the enzyme reverse transcriptase. The same enzyme is now is known to be linked to the widespread spread of viral diseases like AIDs and Hepatitis B. 1934-12-10T00:00:00+0000Bishop is an immunologist and microbiologist. He shared the 1989 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Harold E Varmus for discovering the first human oncogene, c-Src. Oncogenes are a type of gene that in certain circumstances, such as exposure to chemical carcinogens, can change a normal cell into a tumour cell. Bishop and Varmus made the discovery while working with the Rouse sarcoma virus known to cause cancer in chickens. 1936-02-22T00:00:00+0000Baltimore shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for his work on the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell. He also spearheaded efforts for the scientific governance of recombinant DNA and genome editing technologies. 1938-03-07T00:00:00+0000The breakthrough was made by Hubert Loring and Carlton Schwerdt. They managed to isolate the virus with 80% purity. The work paved the way for the team to create the first vaccine in August 1947. Schwerdt continued to improve the technique and by 1953 had managed to isolate 100% pure polio virus with Bachrach Howard, which paved the way for Jonas Salk to create a safe vaccine in 1955. 1947-01-10T00:00:00+0000Barré-Sinoussi is a virologist who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for her contributions to identifying the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. She carried out this work in the 1980s at the Pasteur Institute as part of her research into retroviruses. Barré-Sinoussi has been at the forefront of efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV and a cure for the disease. Serving as the president of the International AIDS Society between 2012 and 2016 and working with WHO, Barré-Sinoussi has collaborated closely with scientists from many resource-limited various countries in Africa and Asia. 1947-07-30T00:00:00+0000The work was carried out by John Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller ad Frederick Chapman Robbins. They published their achievement in TH Weller, FC Robbins, JH Enders, 'Cultivation of poliomyelitis virus in cultures of human foreskin and embryonic tissues', Science, 109/2822 (1949), 85-7. The work paved the way for the two kinds of effective poliovirus vaccine, the inactivated poliovirus vaccine of Jonas E. Salk and the live oral polio vaccine of Albert B. Sabin. The three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954. 1949-01-28T00:00:00+0000d'Herelle was a French Canadian microbiologist who co-discovered bacteriophages (phages), viruses that infect bacteria that are now major tools in biotechnology. He isolated the first phage from chicken faeces in 1919. Following this he successfully treated chicken affected by a plague of typhus with the phage and in August 1919 cured a patient with dysentery using the same method. This laid the basis for the development of phage therapy. 1949-02-22T00:00:00+0000Known as HeLa, the cell line was created by George Gey from cervical cells taken without consent from Henrietta Lacks who died from cervical cancer on 4 October 1951. The cells taken from Lacks were the first human cells grown in the laboratory that did not die after a few cell divisions. The cell line proved enormously beneficial for medical and biological research. It was first published in WF Scherer, JT Syverton, GO Gey, 'Studies on the propagation in vitro of poliomyelitis viruses. IV. Viral multiplication in a stable strain of human malignant epithelial cells (strain HeLa) derived from an epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix', Journal Experimental Medicine, 97/5 (1953), 695–710.1952-05-01T00:00:00+0000The first polio vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk, was tested on children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Nearly 2 million children in 44 states were tested. The trial showed the vaccine to be effective. The vaccine radically reduced the number of polio victims around the world.1954-02-23T00:00:00+0000The feat was achieved by Heinz Fraenkel-Conrat with the tobacco mosaic virus. He did this by stripping away the outer layer of one set of viruses with a common household detergent and then removed the cores of another set using another solution. Once this was done he coated leaves of tobacco plants with the virus extracts, making sure to keep them separate. None of the plants got infected. Frankel-Contrat then reformed the viruses by mixing the extracts, which proved sufficient to infect the plants. Fraenkel-Conrat's work settled a long-dispute about how genetic information controlled viral reproduction. He demonstrated that genetic information was carried in a particle of nucleic acid (RNA) at the core of each virus. Fraenkel-Conrat's research laid the foundation for scientists to study how viruses caused diseases like measles, mumps, chickenpox, flu and the common cold. His research was published in H Fraekel-Conrat, R C Williams, 'Reconstrution of active mosaic virus from its inactive protein and nucelic acid components', PNAS, 41/10 (1955), 690-98.1955-10-15T00:00:00+0000Goodpasture developed a method of culturing viruses in chicken embryos and fertilized chicken eggs. Before this viruses were grown in living tissues which could be contaminated by bacteria. Goodpasture's method laid the foundation for the development of vaccines for smallpox, yellow fever, typhus and chicken pox.1960-09-20T00:00:00+0000Created by Leonard Hayflick and Paul S Moorhead.1962-01-01T00:00:00+0000Developed by Samuel Katz and John F Enders, the vaccine would later be incorporated into the MMR, a combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was made by Maurice Hilleman using material taken from his daughter, Jeryl Lynn, when she suffered measles. The Jeryl strain of the mumps vaccine is still in use today and used in the MMR vaccine.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000The finding was based on 10 years of research conducted by Elizabeth Stern with 10,5000 women who used a family planning clinic in Los Angeles. E Stern, PM Neely, 'Carcinoma and Dysplasia of the Cervix: A comparison of rates for new and returning populations', Acta Cytol, 7 (1963), 357-61.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000LJ Old, EA Boyse, E Oettgen, ED Harven, ED Geering, B Williamson, P Clifford, 'Precipitating antibody in human serum to an antigen present in cultured Burkitt's lymphoma cells', Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 56 (1966), 1699–1704.1966-12-01T00:00:00+0000The vaccine, RA27/3 had been developed by a team headed by Stanley Plotkin.1969-01-01T00:00:00+0000Reverse transcriptase is a restriction enzyme that cuts DNA molecules at specific sites. The enzyme was simultaneously discovered independently by Howard Temin and David Baltimore. Temin made the discovery while working on Rous sacoma virions and Baltimore was working on the poliovirus and vesicular stomatis virus. The discovery laid the foundations for the the disciplines of retrovirology and cancer biology and ability to produce recombinant DNA. The findings were published in D Baltimore, 'RNA-dependent DNA polymerase in virions of RNA tumour viruses' Nature, 226 (1970), 1209–11 and HM Temin, S Mizutani, 'RNA-dependent DNA polymerase in virions of Rous sarcoma virus', Nature, 226 (1970), 1211–13. 1970-07-27T00:00:00+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+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
23 Jan 1930Beverly Griffin was born in Delhi, Louisiana, USAGriffinImperial CollegeDNA sequencing, genetics, oncology, virology
10 Dec 1934Howard M Temin was born in Philadelphia, PA, USATeminUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Oncology
Feb 1936John Michael Bishop born in York, PA, USABishopUniversity California San FranciscoOncology, Virology
7 Mar 1938David Baltimore was born in New York CityBaltimoreNew York CityRecombinant DNA, Oncology, Virology, Cloning
10 Jan 1947First time polio virus was isolatedLoring, SchwerdtStanford UniversityVaccine, Virology
30 Jul 1947Francoise Barré-Sinoussi born in Paris, FranceBarre-SinoussiPasteur InstituteVirology
28 Jan 1949Polio virus successfully grown on human embryonic cells in cultureEnders, Weller, RobbinsBoston Children's HospitalCell culture, Vaccine, Virology
22 Feb 1949Felix d'Herelle diedd'HerellePasteur InstituteAntibacterial agents, Bacteriophages, Bacteriology, Virology
1 May 1952First immortal human cell line developedLacks, Gey, Scherer, SyvertonUniversity of Minnesota, Johns Hopkins UniversityCell culture, Virology
23 Feb 1954Salk polio vaccine trial beganSalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccine
15 Oct 1955Virus dismantled and put back together to reconstitute a live virusFraenkel-ConratUniversity of California BerkleyDNA, Virology
20 Sep 1960Ernest Goodpasture diedGoodpastureHarvard UniversityVirology, Vaccine
1962WI-38 cell line developed - important to development of vaccinesHayflick, MoorheadWistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
1963 - 1963Development of first attentuated measles virus vaccineEnders, Katz Vaccine, Virology
1963Creation of first vaccine against mumpsHillemanMerck & CoVaccines, Virology
1963First report linking a specific virus (herpes simplex virus) to a specific cancer (cervical cancer)SternUniversity of California, Los AngelesOncology, Virology
Dec 1966Scientists detect antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus in patients with nasopharyngeal cancer which suggest the cancer is caused by a virus. Old, Boyse, OettgenMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterCancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Virology
1969 - 1970First license approved in US and Europe for vaccine against rubella (German measles)PlotkinWistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
27 Jul 1970Reverse transcriptase first isolatedBaltimore, Temin, MizutaniMassachusetts Institute of Technology, University of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Recombinant DNA
15 Jun 1971Wendell M Stanley diedStanleyRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry, Virology, Vaccine

23 Jan 1930

Beverly Griffin was born in Delhi, Louisiana, USA

10 Dec 1934

Howard M Temin was born in Philadelphia, PA, USA

10 Dec 1934

John Michael Bishop born in York, PA, USA

7 Mar 1938

David Baltimore was born in New York City

10 Jan 1947

First time polio virus was isolated

30 Jul 1947

Francoise Barré-Sinoussi born in Paris, France

28 Jan 1949

Polio virus successfully grown on human embryonic cells in culture

22 Feb 1949

Felix d'Herelle died

1 May 1952

First immortal human cell line developed

23 Feb 1954

Salk polio vaccine trial began

15 Oct 1955

Virus dismantled and put back together to reconstitute a live virus

20 Sep 1960

Ernest Goodpasture died


WI-38 cell line developed - important to development of vaccines

1963 - 1963

Development of first attentuated measles virus vaccine


Creation of first vaccine against mumps


First report linking a specific virus (herpes simplex virus) to a specific cancer (cervical cancer)

Dec 1966

Scientists detect antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus in patients with nasopharyngeal cancer which suggest the cancer is caused by a virus.

1969 - 1970

First license approved in US and Europe for vaccine against rubella (German measles)

27 Jul 1970

Reverse transcriptase first isolated

15 Jun 1971

Wendell M Stanley died