Virology: Timeline of key events

Mouseover the event title for a more detailed description of the event (if available). To search for particular terms in the description of the event enter the term in the box below 'Event' on the table and press 'enter'. Alternatively use the dropdown lists to filter by Person, Place or Science. Click here to clear the filter.

LJ 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+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+0000The cloning, achieved by Beverly Griffin with Tomas Lindahl, was announced to a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor1979-01-01T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by Stanley Plotkin, Hilary Koprowski and Tadeusz Wiktor at the Wistar Institute1980-01-01T00:00:00+0000A German biophysicist, Delbruck helped discover how viruses replicate their genetic structure, showing that bacterial resistance from viruses is due to random mutation and not the result of adaptive changes. This work showed that viruses reproduce in one step and not exponentially as happens in the case of cellular organisms. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine on the back of this work. Blending biochemistry with genetics, Delbruck made substantial contributions to uncovering important aspects of genetics.1981-03-09T00:00:00+0000The work, led by Beverly Griffin, opened up the possibility of sequencing the virus. It was published in J R Arrand, L. Rymo, J E Walsh, E Bjorck, T Lindahl and B E Griffin, ‘Molecular cloning of the complete Epstein-Barr virus genome as a set of overlapping restriction endonuclease fragments’, Nucleic Acids Research, 9/13 (1981), 2999-2014.1981-07-10T00:00:00+0000The drug was originally synthesised by Howard Schaeffer and then worked on by Gertrude Elion and her team at the Wellcome Research Laboratories. Elion's group worked out the metabolism of the drug and how it coluld attack the herpes virus. Their work opened up further research on enzyme differences in normal and virus-infected cells that paved the way to the development of other antiviral drugs. 1982-03-29T00:00:00+0000Based on investigation of blood drawn from AIDS patients who developed Kaposi sarcoma, a cancer caused by a virus. The research was carried out by Susan Krown and Bijan Safai.1983-01-01T00:00:00+0000WHO, WHO Technical Report Series, No. 691 (Geneva: WHO, 1983).1983-01-01T00:00:00+0000M Durst, L Gissmann, H Ikenberg, H zur Hausen, 'A papillomavirus DNA from a cervical carcinoma and its prevalence in cancer biopsy samples from different geographic regions', Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 80 (1983), 3812-15.1983-06-01T00:00:00+0000An American microbiologist, Enders shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for helping to develop a technique to grow the poliomyeltitis virus in various types of tissue culture. This he achieved with colleagues Thomas Weller and Fredric Robbins in 1949. Their technique paved the way for Jonas Salk's development of a vaccine against polio. Enders is also renowned for having helped pioneer the first measles vaccine. 1985-09-08T00:00:00+0000The approval was given based on results from a clinical trial carried out by Harry Herr and Herbert Oettgen. The BCG vaccine stimulates an immune response that targets both the tuberculosis bacteria and bladder cancer cells. 1990-01-01T00:00:00+0000Luria was an IItalian microbiologist who made his name in 1943 when he demonstrated, with Max Delbruck, that viruses undergo permanent changes in their hereditary material. The same year he and Delbruck showed phage-resistant bacteria resulted from spontaneous mutations rather than as a direct response to environmental changes. Their work helped explain how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. Luria had landed up working with Delbruck in the US because he was banned from academic research fellowships in Italy under Mussolini's Italian fascist regime because of his Jewish background. In 1969 Luria was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for helping to discover the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.1991-02-06T00:00:00+0000Temin was an American 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.1994-02-09T00:00:00+0000Lwoff was a microbiologist. He shared the 1965 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis'. This was based on work he carried out in the early 1950s to understand lysogeny. This is the process by which some the genes of some viruses, bacteriophages (phage), get incorporated into the genetic material of a bacteria but remain latent until the formation of a new phage triggered by a particular event. He found that exposure to ultraviolet light was one factor that could spur on the development a new phage. Lwoff also discovered that vitamins help promote growth in microbes and can serve as co-enzymes. 1994-09-30T00:00:00+0000Wyckoff was a major pioneer of x-ray crystallography of bacteria. He helped develop a high-speed centrifuge for segregating microscopic and submicroscopic material to determine the sizes and molecular weights of small particles. In addition he purified the virus that causes equine encephalomyelitis which laid the foundation for the development of a vaccine to combat an epidemic of the disease in horses. His work in this field enabled him to create a vaccine against epidemic typhus for use in World War II.1994-11-03T00:00:00+0000Developed by William Wunner at the Wistar Institute1995-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
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
16 Feb 1972Francis Peyton Rous diedRousRockefeller UniversityVirology, Oncology
1979First DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus cloned Griffin, LindahlImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, University of GothenbergRecombinant DNA, Virology, Cloning
1980US licensed first rabies vaccine for human useKoprowski, Plotkin, WiktorWistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
9 Mar 1981Max Delbruck diedDelbruckCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
10 Jul 1981Complete library of overlapping DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus clonedGriffin, Arrand, Walsh, Bjorck, RymoImperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, University of GothenbergRecombinant DNA, Oncology, Virology, Cloning
29 Mar 1982FDA approved acyclovir, the first successful antiviral drug, for treating the herpes virusElion, HowardWellcome Research LaboratoriesVirology
1983Link drawn between immune deficiency and cancer  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterImmunology, Oncology, Virology
1983WHO argued hepatitis B virus second only to tobacco as cause of cancer  Oncology, Virology
Jun 1983Harald Zur Hausen identifies the human papillomavirus as the causative agent of cervical cancerzur HausenUniversity of FreibergOncology, Virology
8 Sep 1985John F Enders diedEndersChildren's Hospital BostonVirology, Vaccine
1990US FDA approved BCG, a bacterial vaccine against tuberculosis, to treat early stage bladder cancer. It was the first FDA approved immunotherapyHerr, OettgenMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterImmunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Virology
6 Feb 1991Salvador E Luria diedLuriaMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
9 Feb 1994Howard M Temin diedTeminUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Oncology
30 Sep 1994Andre Michel Lwoff diedLwoffPasteur InstituteMicrobiology, Virology
3 Nov 1994Ralph W G Wyckoff diedWyckoffUniversity of Michigan, University of ArizonaBacteriology, Virology, Vaccine
1995US licensed first wildlife rabies vaccine Wistar InstituteVaccine, Virology

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

16 Feb 1972

Francis Peyton Rous died

1979

First DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus cloned

1980

US licensed first rabies vaccine for human use

9 Mar 1981

Max Delbruck died

10 Jul 1981

Complete library of overlapping DNA fragments of Epstein Barr Virus cloned

29 Mar 1982

FDA approved acyclovir, the first successful antiviral drug, for treating the herpes virus

1983

Link drawn between immune deficiency and cancer

1983

WHO argued hepatitis B virus second only to tobacco as cause of cancer

Jun 1983

Harald Zur Hausen identifies the human papillomavirus as the causative agent of cervical cancer

8 Sep 1985

John F Enders died

1990

US FDA approved BCG, a bacterial vaccine against tuberculosis, to treat early stage bladder cancer. It was the first FDA approved immunotherapy

6 Feb 1991

Salvador E Luria died

9 Feb 1994

Howard M Temin died

30 Sep 1994

Andre Michel Lwoff died

3 Nov 1994

Ralph W G Wyckoff died

1995

US licensed first wildlife rabies vaccine