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Wednesday, November 22 2017

8000BC

Mesopotamia - Seeds are harvested, collected and stored for replanting the following season's crops.

7000BC

Northern Africa - Cattle are domesticated from wild oxen by herders along the Eastern Sahara. Evidence suggests a similar domestication occurred in the Near East around the same time.

7000-5000BC

Sumeria and Babylon - barley beer is produced by crumbling bread into vats of water and allowing the mixture to ferment.

7000-5000BC

China - Rice wine is produced. Molds break down the carbohydrates of rice and other grains into simple fermentable sugars. Naturally occurring yeasts then converted these sugars into alcohol.

7000 BC

Humans have used selective breeding to shape the traits of agriculturally important plants and animals for millennia. Selective breeding refers to the process of shaping the traits of plants or animals by deliberately crossing only parents that have desirable traits reinforcing and strengthening the desired trait across multiple generations.

For more information:
BBC Bitesize: Selective Breeding

A short tutorial on natural selection and selective breeding

6000BC

Mesopotamia - Cheese is produced when milk is transported in containers made from the stomachs of young animals. The cells of the stomach produce an enzyme called Renin, which separates the milk into curds and whey, the first step in cheesemaking.

6000BC

Mesopotamia - Wines produced through fermentation of grapes. Yeasts, present on the grapeskins, digest and break down sugars present in grape juice, forming carbon dioxide and alcohol.

5000BC

Egypt - The effect of fermentation on bread is discovered, probably by accident. It is believed that a batch of bread dough left outside long enough attracts wild yeast spores, causing fermentation. This causes the bread to trap gas bubbles and rise. The resulting bread is lighter and more tasty than the normal flat, hard cake. Gradually it becomes the norm to produce leavened breads, keeping a soft lump of one day's fermented dough to add to the next baking session's fresh batch.

5000BC

Mexico - Maize (corn) cultivation and domestication begins

4000BC

China - Milk, preserved by lactic acid bacteria, is converted to yogurt.

200BC

China - Sauerkraut is produced by fermenting sliced cabbage in rice wine. Bacteria naturally present on the cabbage Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus) convert the sugars in the cabbage to lactic acid, leading to its sour taste and preservation qualities.

200

Hindu philosophers first ponder the nature of reproduction and inheritance.

1492

Christopher Columbus lands in the "New World," bringing with him several diseases, the most prevalent of which is smallpox. Within about twenty years, a smallpox epidemic kills more than one third of the native population due to a lack of resistance to the disease.

The Ancient World

Ancient Biotechnology

Biotechnology has flourished since prehistoric times. When the first human beings realized that they could plant their own crops and breed their own animals, they learned to use biotechnology. This was brought about by the Neolithic Revolution, the gradual transition from a hunter-gather lifestyle to one based upon nurturing and cultivating crops for food. The domestication of starchy staple foods made this transition possible. Early farmers selected plants that produced larger, more harvestable seeds, over time, converting wild species into reliable and bountiful crops. Similarly, the first animal breeders realized that different physical traits could be either magnified or lost by mating appropriate pairs of animals.

The discovery that fruit juices fermented into wine, or that milk could be converted into cheese or yogurt, or that beer could be made by fermenting solutions of malt and hops began the study of biotechnology. When the first bakers found that they could make a soft, spongy bread rather than a firm, thin cracker, they were acting as fledgling biotechnologists. These early examples of biotechnology, focused primarily on the production or preservation of foods, must have seemed magical, as the scientific principles underlying the transformation remained hidden for thousands of years.
1492

1492

Christopher Columbus lands in the "New World," bringing with him several diseases, the most prevalent of which is smallpox. Within about twenty years, a smallpox epidemic kills more than one third of the native population due to a lack of resistance to the disease.

Discovering The Cell

Viewing the Invisible World

While glassmaking can be traced back to 3500 BC in Mesopotamia, the Romans developed methods to produce clear glass during the first century AD. Glass lenses that were thick in the middle and thin at the edges could be placed over an object to enlarge its appearance. By the 13th century, spectacle makers were fashioning these lenses into glasses. Credit for the first microscope is usually given to Zacharias Jansen, a Dutch spectacle maker. Around 1590, Jansen and his son discovered that multiple lenses placed in a tube greatly magnified objects placed at the end of the tube. This was the first compound microscope (one that utilizes two or more lenses) and provided magnification of 20-30X.

Word traveled rapidly and an increasing number of individuals began to observe things that had previously been hidden to the naked eye. Within just a few years, there were many microscope makers throughout Europe and the scientific fields of cell biology and microbiology were born.
1600

1600

Beginning of the rise of the historic tribes of the North American South: Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee tribes.

1607

1607

Founding of Jamestown.

1630

1630

William Harvey makes the discovery that males contribute sperm and females contribute eggs to reproduce sexually.

For more information:
William Harvey
An article by Access Excellence

1660

1660

The Iroquois Indian nation is the largest population of Native Americans in the northeast United States, with roughly 25,000 tribe members.

1665

1665

Robert Hooke publishes his book Micrographia describing his discovery of the cell. The discovery is made by viewing a slice of cork underneath a microscope and observing that it is made up of tiny little segments. He derives the term "cell" from the way the segments seem to resemble monks' cells in a monastery.

For more information:
Robert Hooke's Micrographia
An interactive copy of the original book by the National Library of Medicine

Amazing Cells
Background information and interactive activities about cells by the Genetic Science Learning Center

HudsonAlpha iCell
An interactive 3-D animation by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1666

1666

Isaac Newton introduces the theory of gravitation.

For more information:
NOVA: Newton's Dark Secrets
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1673

1673

Anton van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch pioneer in glass lenses, records the first findings of bacteria using his early microscopes.

For more information:
Anton van Leeuwenhoek
A article by PBS

1698

1698

The steam engine is invented.

1775

1775

American Revolution, 1775-1783

1776

1776

Declaration of Independence is ratified.

1795

1795

The metric system of measurement is introduced.

1802

1802

The cell nucleus is discovered and first described by Franz Bauer.

For more information:
HudsonAlpha iCell
An interactive 3-D animation by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Inside A Cell
An interactive animation by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1826

1826

The first photograph is created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a pewter plate and bitumen of Judea (a derivative of petroleum). The pewter plate is given a daylong exposure to sunlight and then washed with oil of lavender to produce the image, a process he calls "Heliography." The image taken is of Niépce's home in France looking between two buildings.

For more information:
The First Photograph
An article by the Harry Ransom Center

1826

Samuel Morey produces the first internal combustion engine that runs solely on ethanol and turpentine.

1830

1830

Gerardus Johannes Mulder describes the chemical composition of proteins. The image to the right shows the process of protein electrophoresis, a later method of studying protein composition.

For more information:
Tour of the Basics
An animation by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1855

1855

Bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) is discovered. It later becomes a major research, development, and production tool for biotechnology.

1859

1859

Charles Darwin's landmark book, On the Origin of Species, is published and theorizes that animal populations evolve over time to suit their environment, a process he calls "natural selection." His ideas on evolution stem from a trip to the Galapagos Islands where he observed different species of finches and how their beaks were adapted to their sources of food. Darwin also develops the idea of adaptive radiation in which populations obtain specialized resources by expanding into their environments. Darwin's work, The Descent of Man, is published in 1871 and applies his theory of evolution to the origins of the human species.

For more information:
On the Origin of Species
A copy of Darwin's original text by the University of New South Wales

1860

1860

Abraham Lincoln is elected 16th president.

1861

1861

American Civil War, 1861-1865

1864

1864

French chemist Louis Pasteur develops the process of pasteurization, which uses heat to destroy harmful microorganisms in products such as milk, allowing them to be transported without spoiling. Some of the diseases that pasteurization can prevent are diphtheria, strep throat, scarlet fever, and typhoid fever. Pasteurization is now required of many milk products, as well as many other foods that you would find at the average grocery store in order to protect the consumer.

For more information:
Pasteur's Experiment
An interactive animation and teaching guide by W.H. Freeman Publishing

Understanding Genetic Inheritance

Mendel and Inherited "Factors"

From earliest time, people noticed among animals, plants and in human families that parents and offspring tended to resemble each other. Gregor Johann Mendel turned this study of heredity and family similarity into a science and is often called “the father of genetics”.

Mendel was a monk in the Augustinian order with a strong interest in botany. As early as 1856, Mendel began studying the physical traits of peas he grew in the monastery’s garden. He carefully pollinated the plants, saved and planted the resulting seeds, and analyzed each succeeding generation. He studied easily distinguishable characteristics like the color and texture of the peas, the color of the pea pods and flowers, and the height of the plants.

From his studies, Mendel derived certain basic laws of heredity: hereditary factors do not combine, but are passed intact; each member of the parental generation transmits only half of its hereditary factors to each offspring (with certain factors "dominant" over others); and different offspring of the same parents receive different sets of hereditary factors. These discoveries form the backbone of our understanding of the behavior of genetic traits.

Although Gregor Mendel published his findings, Experiments with Plant Hybrids, in a scientific journal, they had little impact at the time. It was not until the early 1900s that his findings were rediscovered by other scientists and the importance of his work was realized.
1865

1865

Gregor Mendel demonstrates heredity transmitted in discrete units through experiments with peas. Through his pea experiments Mendel develops his laws of inheritance: the law of segregation and the law of independent assortment. Mendel's work is largely ignored at the time. It is not until after his death that his work is rediscovered and its significance understood. Mendel is now considered to be the founder of modern genetics.

For more information:
Mendelian Inheritance
An interactive animation by Northeastern University and Science Technologies

Experiments in Plant Hybridization
A copy of Mendel's paper by Electronic Scholarly Publishing

1865

Armand Trousseau (pictured) is the first to describe the disease that would later be known as hemochromatosis, a largely genetic disorder resulting in over-absorption of iron during digestion. Trousseau's patient had a triad of symptoms: diabetes, liver cirrhosis and a bronzy skin tone. The term "hemochromatosis" would not be coined until 1889 by Daniel von Recklinghausen.

1867

1867

The first hot dogs are sold in New York City by vendor Charles Feltman.

1869

1869

Fredrich Miescher, a Swiss biologist, successfully isolates nuclein (material from the nucleus which contains nucleic acid) from pus cells obtained from used bandages. His investigation is aimed at discovering the chemical makeup of cells, not heredity. Several years later, Meischer's work on cells is connected to the laws of heredity described by Mendel.

For more information:
Freidrich Miescher :: DNA from the Beginning
A biography and animation describing Miescher's work.

1870

1870

Walther Flemming describes chromosome behavior during animal cell division (mitosis). During mitosis, chromosomes split evenly to create two sets so that when the cell cleaves, each new daughter cell will have an identical set of chromosomes.

For more information:
Mitosis
An interactive animation by Sumanas Inc.

Chromosomes
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1876

1876

Alexander Graham Bell (pictured) patents the telephone.

1879

1879

William James Beal experiments with controlled crosses of corn in hopes of developing of larger crop yields.

1881

1881

Robert Koch observes colonies of bacteria growing on slices of potato, agar medium, and gelatin medium, and develops nutrient agar as a standard tool for growing bacterial cultures that is still used today.

For more information:
All About Agar
An article by Science Buddies

1885

1885

Louis Pasteur runs the first human trials for his rabies vaccine. He cultivates the virus in rabbits and weakens it, then administers it to rabid dogs and observes the effects. After only eleven trials with dogs, he uses the vaccine on a young boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog, and is successful in preventing the virus.

For more information:
Activities in Vaccines and Immunity
A set of classroom activities by the National Academy of Sciences

NOVA-Rx for Survival: Disease Warriors
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1887

1887

R. J. Petri, while working for his mentor Robert Koch, creates circular glass plates with overlapping glass lids for use with nutrient agar to grow bacterial colonies. These plates prove to effectively block out contaminants and maintain a sterile sample to work with. The flat design also allows the scientist to have easier access to individual colonies being grown on a plate. Microbiologists continue to use Petri dishes regularly today.

For more information:
Petri’s Famous Plate
An article by Hardy Diagnostics

1896

1896

The first x-ray is used by Wilhelm Röntgen to take a picture of his wife's hand. The following year, medical x-rays are put into full use.

1897

1897

Eduard Buchner demonstrates that fermentation can occur with an extract of yeast in the absence of intact yeast cells. The discovery that enzymes can convert sugar to alcohol leads to the birth of industrial fermentation.

1900

1900

Rudolf Diesel demonstrates the first biodiesel car at the World Fair. It runs entirely on peanut oil and is said to be the future of car fuels.

1900

Three botanists - Hugo DeVries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak - independently rediscover Mendel's work on heredity, a generation after Mendel published his papers.
For more information:
De Vries, Hugo 1848-1935
Information on De Vries and his work by the DNA Learning Center

1901

1901

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of Physiology/Medicine, Literature, Chemistry, and Physics.

For more information:
About the Nobel Prizes
An article by the Nobel Foundation

1901

Vitamins are discovered by E. Wildiers as growth factors "indispensable for the development of yeast."

1902

1902

British physician Archibald Garrod demonstrates that the disease alkaptonuria is inherited according to Mendelian rules and involves a rare recessive mutation. It is among the first conditions ascribed to a mutation in a single gene, affecting a specific biochemical pathway in the body. A characteristic feature of alkaptonuria is urine that turns black when exposed to air.

For more information:
Alkaptonuria
Background information by the Genetics Home Reference

1902

Walter Sutton suggests that chromosomes may be the carriers of heredity and contain Mendel's "factors" for passing along traits. He develops his theory that chromosomes affect heredity after he observes chromosomal movements during meiosis, and notes that egg and sperm cells receive only one chromosome when they form during meiosis, but chromosomes occur as pairs in body cells.

For more information:
Meiosis
An interactive animation by Sumanas Inc.

1903

1903

Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.

For more information:
NOVA: Wright Brothers' Flying Machine
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1905

1905

Reginald Punnett develops the "Punnett Square" as a tool to visualize the number and variety of possible genetic combinations passed from parents to their child.

For more information:
Genetics Activities
A teaching activity by Serendip

1905

Einstein proposes his Theory of Relativity. The Theory of Relativity encompasses the idea that no object may travel faster than the speed of light and two events, simultaneous for one observer, may not be simultaneous for another observer if the observers are in relative motion. From this theory stems the famous equation energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.

For more information:
NOVA: Einstein's Big Idea
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1905

Edmund Wilson and Nettie Stevens theorize that sex is determined by chromosomes. They prove that an XY pair of chromosomes codes for male gender and an XX pair of chromosomes codes for female gender. Image on the right shows an X chromosome (in blue) and a Y chromosome (in gold).

For more information:
Tour of the Basics
An animation by the Genetic Science Learning Center

The Organization of DNA
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1905

Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen coins the term "gene" to describe the Mendelian units of heredity. "Gene" comes from the Greek word genos, meaning "birth."

1908

1908

Henry Ford introduces the Model-T car.

1910

1910

Thomas Hunt Morgan proves that chromosomes carry genes, establishing the basic concept for modern genetics. Over the next two decades, he and his co-workers at Columbia University, pinpoint the location of various fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) genes on chromosomes and create the first genetic map, establishing the use of Drosophila as a model system to study heredity.

For more information:
Model Organisms
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1910

Pheobus Levene helps discover the components of DNA - four different nitrogen bases, deoxyribose sugar and phosphate.

Levene hypothesizes that the DNA nucleotide sequence is organized into repeating tetranucleotides (tetranucleotide hypothesis), with an equal amount of each type of nitrogen base. Levene believes that this type of DNA sequence is too simple for it to be genetic information and instead hypothesizes that proteins are the genetic material in cells.

Over the next several decades, these hypotheses are corrected as scientists learn more about the nature and structure of DNA.

For more information:
Phoebus Levene (1869-1940)
A biography on Levene

1912

1912

The Titanic sinks after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.

1914

1914

World War I, 1914-1918

1914

Bacterial fermentation processes are developed that produce acetone and butanol from starch. These are used to make explosives needed for World War I and to produce paint solvents for the rapidly growing automotive industry.

1919

1919

Karl Ereky, a Hungarian engineer, publishes his book Biotechnologie using the term "biotechnology" to describe a technology based on converting raw materials into a more useful product. With his work, he hopes to further research into biologically engineering food production to end world hunger.
For more information:

The founding father of biotechnology: Károly (Karl) Ereky
An article about Ereky and his work published by the International Journal of Horticultural Science

1920

1920

The nineteenth amendment grants women's suffrage (the right to vote).

For more information:
Our Documents - The Nineteenth Amendment
A government resource that includes a picture of the original document and information about its history

1923

1923

Talking movies are invented.

1924

1924

The U.S. Immigration Act of 1924, built on the ideas of the eugenics movement, is passed to limit the immigration of certain ethnic groups believed to be "genetically inferior."

For more information:
The Immigration Act of 1924
An article by Portland State University

Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement
An online gallery by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1926

1926

Agricultural expert, Henry Wallace, applies the principles of hybridization to develop new, higher-yielding seeds. A precursor to more advanced cross-breeding and biotechnology, hybridization is the process of crossing plant varieties to produce crops with more favorable traits.

For more information:
The Science of Hybrids
An article by the Wessels Living History Farm

1927

1927

Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
For more information:

Lindbergh's Transatlantic Flight: New York to Paris
A detailed description of Lindbergh's flight by the Public Broadcasting Service

1927

Hermann Muller discovers that x-rays cause DNA mutations.

For more information:

Hermann J. Muller - Biography
An article by the Nobel Foundation

1927

Babe Ruth hits a record 60 home runs in a single season.

For more information:
Babe Ruth
The official website of Babe Ruth

1927

The Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration is created. The name is shortened to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1930.

For more information:
www.fda.gov
FDA website

1928

1928

Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin when a petri dish with mold contamination in one of his experiments mysteriously dies. However, it takes almost 15 years before penicillin is widely available for use in the medical field.

For more information:
Alexander Fleming
An article by the Nobel Foundation

1929

1929

On October 29th, the New York stock market crashes, sparking the Great Depression. This event is now known as "Black Tuesday".

1930

1930

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is established from the U.S. Hygenics Laboratory by the Ransdell Act. This act also authorizes the issue of grants by the NIH for research on biological and medical problems.

For more information:
www.nih.gov
NIH website

1930

Typically used in plants, induced mutagenesis can increase variation in a plant population providing raw material for the development of desired traits through selective breeding. Mutations are caused, or induced by exposing seeds to radiation or chemicals that cause random changes in DNA. Only those plants with favorable traits are maintained and bred to develop the next generation.

For more information:
Radiation Induced Mutations
One page text explanation of radiation induced mutations in plants from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

2008 NY Times Article
New York Times article from 2008 on radiation induced mutation use in agriculture.

1931

1931

Ernst Ruska invents the first electron microscope, which is capable of 400-times magnification.

For more information:
The Development of the Electron Microscope and of Electron Microscopy
An article by the Nobel Foundation

1932

1932

Scientists split the atom.


For more information:

Zounds! We've Split the Atomic Nucleus
An online article by Wired magazine

1932

The Tuskegee experiment begins to study the natural history of syphilis. The experiment continues for 40 years until a 1972 press article reveals that the men in the study are not being given appropriate treatment for their disease. The article causes widespread public disapproval and the project is ended the next month. The Tuskegee experiment sparks important discussions about the ethics of human research and the need for regulation and informed consent.

For more information:
U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee
An article and timeline by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

1933

1933

The "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring" is passed in Germany, determining individuals as "hereditary defectives," and leading to the sterilization of 56,244 people.


For more information:

The Biological State: Nazi Racial Hygiene
An article by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

1934

1934

Desmond Bernal demonstrates that X-ray crystallography can be used to study larger molecules such as proteins. With this technique, a crystalized form of the substance to be studied is exposed to x-rays in order to produce a diffraction pattern. If the crystal is pure enough and the diffraction pattern is acquired very carefully, it is possible to reconstruct the positions of the atoms in the molecules that comprise the basic unit of the crystal. X-ray crystallography produced by Rosalind Franklin in the early 1950s becomes an important clue in the discovery of the structure of DNA.

For more information:
Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Willkins
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1935

1935

Andrei Nikolaevitch Belozersky isolates DNA in the pure state. This is an important step on the road to genetic modification of whole organisms.

1937

1937

Arne Tiselius helps develop gel electrophoresis for use on serum proteins and enzymes. Gel electrophoresis is used to separate DNA, RNA, and protein molecules with an electric field applied to a gel matrix.

For more information:
Gel Electrophoresis Virtual Lab
An interactive virtual lab by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Gel Electrophoresis
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1939

1939

World War II, 1939-1945

1941

1941

George Beadle and Edward Tatum affirm their "one gene, one enzyme" hypothesis through experiments on the red bread mold Neurospora crassa, proving that genes act by regulating certain chemical events in the body. They find that exposing the mold to x-ray radiation causes mutations in some cells, disrupting amino acid production.

For more information:
George Beadle and Edward Tatum
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1942

1942

The term "epigenetics" is coined by C. H. Waddington, combining the words "genetics" and "epigenesis." Epigenetics is the study of inherited changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.

For more information:
Epigenetics: Flipping the Genetic "Switch"
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Epigenetics
Background information and interactive activities by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1942

The electron microscope is used to identify and characterize a bacteriophage - a virus that infects bacteria. The bacteriophage is a key player in Hershey and Chase's experiments in 1952, which use bacteriophage replication to track DNA entering a bacterial cell.

For more information:
Bacteriophages Targeting E. coli
An animation by Hybrid Medical Animation

1943

1943

Salvador Luria and Max Delbruck perform "the fluctuation test," the first quantitative study of mutation in bacteria. The findings of this test prove that random mutations occur at a constant rate.

For more information:
Luria-Delbruck Test
An article by the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

1944

1944

Oswald Theodore Avery (pictured), Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty determine that pneumococcus bacteria is transformed from one type of bacteria to another by DNA. DNA is first believed to be too simple a molecule to express enough genetic information to cause the transformation and initially their findings are not widely accepted.

For more information:
What is Heredity?
An animation by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1945

1945

The first computer, called the Harvard Mark I, is built.


For more information:

IBM's ASCC introduction (a.k.a. The Harvard Mark I)
An article by IBM

1948

1948

The Nuremberg Code is established in response to the human experiments conducted by German physicians during WWII. In these experiments concentration camp prisoners were used as test subjects without their consent. The Nuremberg Code states that voluntary, informed consent of participants is essential for all human experiments.

For more information:
Nuremberg Code
A copy of the Nuremberg Code by the National Institutes of Health

1949

1949

Linus Pauling shows that sickle cell anemia is a "molecular disease" resulting from a gene mutation.

For more information:
Sickle Cell Disease
Background information by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Linus Pauling's triple DNA helix model
Background information and animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1950

1950

Erwin Chargaff isolates DNA from several organisms and measures the amount of each nitrogenous base (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine) in each sample. He discovers the amount of adenine bases to be roughly equal to the amount of thymine bases, and the same for cytosine and guanine. Chargaff's findings lead to the discovery of nucleotide base pairing and the formulation of Chargaff's rules.

For more information:
Chargaff's ratios
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1950

The Korean War, 1950-1953

1950

The National Science Foundation is created. As a grant provider for roughly 20% of all government funded science research in the U.S., the NSF plays a big role in continuing scientific discovery in many areas of science and engineering.

For more information:
www.nsf.gov
NSF website

1951

1951

Barbara McClintock discovers transposable elements, or "jumping genes," in corn. Her groundbreaking work provides the answer to many questions regarding the behavior of chromosomes during meiosis.

For more information:
Barbara McClintock and Transposable Genetic Elements
An article by the U.S. Department of Energy

1951

The color TV is introduced. However, due to various lawsuits and low sales numbers, production is halted during the Korean War. During that time, RCA developed and improved their color TV system, and sales began again in 1954.

Identifying The Molecular Process

Discovering the Structure of DNA

By the early 1950s, much was known about DNA, including its exclusive role as genetic material – the sole substance capable of storing practically all the information needed to create a living being. What was not yet known was what the elusive DNA molecule looked like, or how it performed this amazing hereditary function. This would change in the course of a single year. The double helical structure of DNA, a twisted ladder with base-pairs rungs essential to its hereditary function, was deciphered in 1953. Several researchers were attempting to understand the structure of DNA using various laboratory methods. James Watson and Francis Crick, aided by the findings of fellow researchers Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, unveiled the nature of the DNA molecule. Two intertwined strands of nucleotides are held together by bonds connecting each strand into what has now become the familiar image of the double helix.

Watson and Crick also showed that each strand of the DNA molecule could serve as the template for the other. When the cell divides, the two strands separate and on each strand a new other strand is built, just like the one before.

Watson and Crick shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Maurice Wilkins. Unfortunately, Rosalind Franklin, whose work greatly contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA, died before this date, and the Nobel Prize rules do not allow a prize to be awarded posthumously.

The discovery of the structure of DNA has been called the most important biological finding of the last 100 years. It gave rise to the field of molecular biology, and is likely to drive key scientific discoveries for the next 100 years.
1952

1952

WD Davis and WR Arrowsmith publish a paper entitled, The Effect of Repeated Bleeding in Hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a genetic condition caused by excessive iron storage in the body. This paper provides evidence that frequent blood donation is a simple and effective treatment for the disease.

1952

Photo 51, the famous x-ray diffraction image taken by Rosalind Franklin, is created. The image expresses an "X" that appears from the zigs and zags of the helix, with the bases on the inside and the sugar-phosphate backbone on the outside. Watson and Crick later cite this image as the crucial evidence that they need to determine the structure of DNA.

For more information:
NOVA: Secret of Photo 51
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1952

The Polio vaccine is created by Jonas Salk. He uses formalin, a chemical that inactivates the whole virus, to make the virus safe to inoculate patients.

For more information:
Development of Polio Vaccines
An article by Access Excellence

1952

Linus Pauling proposes a triple helix structure for DNA, with nitrogen bases along the outside of the molecule and phosphate groups on the inside. The next year, Watson and Crick discover that DNA actually has a double helix structure.

For more information:
The Triple Helix
A short video by the DNA Learning Center

1952

Alfred Hershey (pictured) and Martha Chase perform their "blender experiments" using bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria). They believe that if the DNA and protein in the bacteriophages could be separately tagged, each could be followed through the bacteriophages' replication process. This would identify which of the two molecules passes on the genetic information when the bacteriophage replicates. Hershey and Chase find that only the DNA of the bacteriophage enters the bacterial cell, supporting the theory set forth by Avery and colleagues in 1944 that DNA and not protein is the genetic material.

For more information:
The Hershey-Chase Experiment
An animation by W.W. Norton & Company

1953

1953

Francis Crick and James Watson describe the double helix structure of DNA.

For more information:
The Discovery of the Molecular Structure of DNA
An article by the Nobel Foundation

1955

1955

Arthur Kornberg and his colleagues isolate DNA polymerase, an enzyme used by the cell to copy its DNA. This same enzyme is later used in molecular biology laboratories to copy DNA through polymerase chain reaction and for various recombinant DNA techniques.

For more information:
DNA Replication
An animation by Howard Hughes Medical Institute

1955

Disneyland opens in Anaheim, CA.

1955

Joe Hin Tjio defines 46 as the typical number of human chromosomes. Previously, it was widely accepted that humans have 48 chromosomes.

For more information:
Karyotyping
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Make a Karyotype
An interactive activity by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1955

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

For more information:
Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights
Articles and teaching resources by Scholastic

1957

1957

BURGER KING® introduces the WHOPPER®™ sandwich.

1957

The Soviet Union launches the satellite Sputnik, beginning the Space Age.

For more information:
NOVA: Sputnik Declassified
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1957

The "central dogma" of DNA is developed by Francis Crick and George Gamov, which explains how protein is produced. Crick and Gamov's "sequence hypothesis" suggests that the sequence of amino acids that make up a protein are coded for in the DNA sequence.

For more information:
The Central Dogma
A copy of Crick's paper in Nature

1958

1958

NASA launches Pioneer 1, their first spacecraft to successfully launch into the atmosphere and record data on the Earth's radiation belts.

For more information:
Pioneer 1
Article by NASA detailing the Pioneer 1's history

1958

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is founded.

For more information:
NASA
Administration website

1958

Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl demonstrate that DNA replicates semiconservatively, with each strand of the DNA molecule from the parent generation used as a template for a new strand in the daughter generation.

For more information:
DNA Replication
An animation by Wiley

Build a DNA Molecule
An interactive animation by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1959

1959

Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod discover controlling regions within the DNA sequence that regulate the activity of genes.

For more information:
The Lac Operon
An animation about Jacob and Monod's research by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

Regulating Genes
An article and teaching resource by PBS

1959

The sequence of steps in the process of translation are defined.

For more information:
Protein Synthesis
An animation by McGraw Hill

Transcribe and Translate a Gene
An interactive activity by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1959

Professor Jerome Lejeune and his colleagues discover that Down syndrome, first classified by J. L. H. Down in 1866, is caused by trisomy 21 - that is, having three copies, not two, of chromosome 21. The extra copies of the genes on chromosome 21 affect the development of the brain and body.

For more information:
Down Syndrome
An article by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Using Karyotypes to Predict Genetic Disorders
An article and animations on karyotyping chromosomes by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Chromosome Abnormalities
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1961

1961

The Soviets launch the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space.

1961

Sydney Brenner, Francois Jacob, and Matthew Meselson discover mRNA and its role in transmitting information from DNA in the nucleus to the protein-making machinery in the cytoplasm.

For more information:
mRNA Processing
An animation by the Molecular and Cellular Biology Learning Center

1961

Construction begins on the Berlin Wall.

1961

Robert Guthrie develops a screening test to determine if newborn babies have phenylketonuria (PKU), an inability to digest the amino acid phenylalanine. The test is performed within the first few days of birth, and involves pricking the baby's heel to obtain a blood sample and measuring the level of phenylalanine in the dried blood spot. Dr. Guthrie introduces a system for collection and transportation of blood samples on filter paper, making wide scale genetic screening possible.

Today, over four million children in the U.S. are tested each year for genetic and metabolic disorders through newborn screening. By 2009, the newborn screening test has grown to include 29 core conditions and more than 20 secondary conditions, and is mandatory in every US state. However, the specific conditions included on the test vary from state to state. Newborns with these disorders typically appear normal at birth, but develop symptoms early in life. By detecting the disease early, treatment and dietary changes can be made which prevent the onset or lessen the severity of clinical symptoms.

For more information:
National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center
The main website for information on newborn screening in the U.S.

Newborn Genetic Screening
Background information by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Genetic Screening of Newborn Infants
A teaching activity by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1963

1963

Ernest McCulloch and James Till are the first to demonstrate the existence of adult stem cells in mouse bone marrow and identify that they are self-renewing cells.

For more information:
Stem Cells
Articles and interactive resources by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1963

JFK is assassinated.

1963

Martin Luther King Jr. makes his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28.

For more information:
Martin Luther King's Speech: I Have a Dream
The full text of the speech by ABC News

1965

1965

Robert Holley discovers and publishes the sequence and structure of alanine tRNA (transfer RNA), the RNA molecule that is responsible for incorporating the amino acid alanine into growing protein chains. This was one of the first non-protein coding gene products discovered. Holley's experiments were conducted on tRNA extracted from commercial bakers' yeast.

For more information:
The Work of Robert W. Holley
Background information about Robert Holley and links to his publications

1965

The Vietnam War, 1965-1975

1966

1966

Marshall Nirenberg, Har Khorana, Heinrich Mathaei and Severo Schoa crack the genetic code - showing how 20 amino acids are determined by a sequence of three nucleotide bases (a codon).

For more information:
DNA Words Are Three Letters Long
An animation on how they cracked the genetic code by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1966

Star Trek first airs on television.

1966

The first prenatal genetic testing is performed by amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is performed by using a needle to extract a small amount of amniotic fluid containing fetal skin cells. The genetic information contained in these cells can then be tested, making it possible to diagnose genetic conditions during pregnancy.

For more information:
Amniocentesis
Background information by the American Pregnancy Association

Study of Chromosomes
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1968

1968

Restriction enzymes are first described as enzymes that are present in bacteria and serve to recognize and cut specific short sequences of DNA. These enzymes are thought to have evolved to provide a defense mechanism against invading viruses and are routinely used for DNA modification and manipulation in laboratories. Image on the right is the crystal structure of the restriction enzyme ECOR1.

For more information:
DNA Manipulation
An interactive in-depth explanation of restriction enzymes by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1969

1969

The first moon landing by U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin while Michael Collin pilots the command module from lunar orbit. Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.

For more information:
NOVA: To the Moon
A video and teaching resource by PBS

1969

ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet, is created.

1970

1970

Twelve states initiate mandatory sickle cell disease testing for African Americans. The goal of the testing is to identify carriers of sickle cell disease in an effort to reduce the incidence of sickle cell disease. Unfortunately, due to widespread misunderstanding, testing leads to the stigmatization and discrimination of many who are identified as having sickle cell trait, meaning they are carriers for the condition. Mandatory testing is ended in 1972 by the National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act.

For more information:
Genetic Screening and Discrimination: Relevance of Historical Experience
An article by the National Human Genome Research Institute

1970

The Apollo 13 rocket is launched and experiences a massive equipment failure, leading to an abbreviated lunar mission.

Recombinant DNA

Genetic Engineering

Stanley Cohen's and Herbert Boyer's discovery of recombinant DNA technology in 1973 began a revolution in biology and led to the birth of the biotechnology industry. The idea behind the technique first arose in November 1972 at a scientific conference in Honolulu. On a late evening excursion to a delicatessen in Waikiki, the two scientists talked about a collaboration combining their areas of scientific expertise – Boyer worked with enzymes that cut DNA at specific sites and Cohen was studying plasmids, circles of DNA that carry various genes and are found in bacteria.

The next year, Boyer and Cohen had created the first recombinant DNA organism, cutting two different plasmids with the enzymes, fusing them together and inserting the recombined molecule into a bacterial cell. This was soon followed by the creation of plasmids containing genes from different organisms such as frogs, mice and humans. Also known as gene splicing, this technique allows scientists to manipulate the DNA of an organism - the basis of genetic engineering.

In the mid 1970s, Genentech became the first company founded on the basis of recombinant DNA. Genentech used genetic engineering to produce a human protein from within a bacterial cell. The production of insulin and human growth hormone soon followed, ushering in the era of commercial biotechnology.
1971

1971

Computer floppy disks are commercially introduced.

For more information:
IBM Archives: 20th Century Storage Technology
A timeline by IBM describing storage technology innovations in the 20th century

1972

1972

Paul Berg creates the first recombinant DNA by using a restriction enzyme to splice DNA. He forms the hybrid circular molecule by joining together two DNA strands using a ligase enzyme. By definition, recombinant DNA is a form of artificial DNA that must be engineered and cannot be formed through natural processes.

For more information:
DNA Manipulation
An interactive illustrated article on recombinant DNA and restriction enzymes by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1973

1973

Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer create the first recombinant organism using the techniques developed in 1972 by Paul Berg.

For more information:
The First Recombinant DNA
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1974

1974

The National Institutes of Health forms a Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee to oversee recombinant genetic research.

1975

1975

Microsoft is founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1975

Fred Sanger and his colleagues, Allan Maxam, and Walter Gilbert independently develop rapid methods to determine the sequence of DNA.

For more information:
Early DNA Sequencing
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1975

Monoclonal antibodies, tiny molecules which specifically bind to individual proteins as part of the immune response, are produced in the lab.

For more information:
Immunotherapy: Monoclonal Antibodies
An article on the use of antibodies in cancer treatment by the American Cancer Society

Monoclonal Antibodies
An animation by Sumanas Inc.

1976

1976

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form the "Apple Computer Company" and assemble their first computer, an Apple 1. Eight years later, the Apple Macintosh (pictured) became the first comercially successful computer to use a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and be controlled by a mouse.

1976

The first genetic engineering company, Genentech, is founded by Herbert Boyer, one of the creators of recombinant DNA technology, and venture capitalist Robert Swanson. In 1977, the company produces the first human protein in a bacterium. By the year 2000, the biotechnology industry grows to include nearly 9000 companies.

For more information:
Genentech - History
Genentech's corporate history page

1977

1977

Introns and discontinuous genes are discovered independently by Richard Roberts and Phillip Sharp. Introns are regions of DNA within a gene that are not translated into protein. Roberts and Sharp were awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries.

For more information:
mRNA Splicing
An animation by Sumanas Inc.

1977

William Dreyer, a California Institute of Technology immunologist, patents the first automated protein sequencer which is used to determine the sequence of a long chain of amino acids from a protein sample.

For more information:
Peptide or Protein Sequencing Method and Apparatus
A copy of William Dreyer's patent by Google Patents

1978

1978

The first in vitro fertilization test tube baby, Louise Brown, is born.

For more information:
IVF
An animation by Sumanas Inc.

1978

The US Supreme Court decides that living things can be patented in the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty. Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty was a genetic engineer who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil. This court ruling opened the door to patenting of genes and genetically engineered organisms.

For more information:
Diamond v. Chakrabarty
A copy of the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case by Find Law

1978

The Belmont Report is written, summarizing key ethical guidelines for human subject research. Human research ethics was brought to government and public attention by the controversy surrounding the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The National Research Act was passed in 1974 creating the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which put together the Belmont Report. The guidelines provided by the Belmont Report are still used today as a reference for ethical research.

For more information:
The Belmont Report
A copy of the Belmont Report by the National Institutes of Health

1978

The establishment of the Cyprus Thalassemia Centre. Mediterranean countries, such as Cyprus, have a high incidence of specific diseases such as the thallassemias (alpha-thallassemia and beta-thallassemia). These disorders affect the amount and type of hemoglobin that is produced by the body. Beta-thalassemia was a major public health problem in Cyprus in the mid to late 1900's, sparking an interest in developing effective strategies for treatment and prevention. Beta-thalassemia is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion, meaning that there is a 25% chance of each child being affected when both parents are carriers of the same disorder.

The Cyprus Thalassemia Center housed a laboratory for performing voluntary carrier screening and a thalassemia treatment center. In addition, the Center developed a wide-spread educational campaign. In northern (Turkish) Cyprus, carrier screening was made mandatory by law. In southern (Greek) Cyprus, The Orthodox Church began requiring couples to present a certificate of testing from the Cyprus Thalassemia Center before they would be given permission to be married. In both areas marriages between carriers were not prohibited, however the rates of children born with beta-thalassemias have dropped dramatically in Cyprus since the establishment of these programs.

Bibliography: Ioannou, Panayiotis. Thalassemia prevention in Cyprus. From The Ethics of Genetic Screening by Ruth F. Chadwick. (1999). pp 55-68. Published by Kluwer Academic Publishers.

1981

1981

Personal Computers (PC's) are introduced by IBM.

1981

PCR - the polymerase chain reaction - is invented by Kary Mullis and others at Cetus Corporation. PCR is a technique for making multiple copies of a specific portion of DNA which dramatically boosts the pace of genetic research. In a few hours, PCR can make billions of copies of a specific strand of DNA.

For more information:
PCR
An animation by Sumanas Inc.

1981

Fred Sanger and his team sequence the human mitochondrial genome. The mitochondrial genome contains 16,569 bases and 37 genes. Many mitochondrial genes are involved in biological processes and human disease. An individual's mitochondria are inherited almost exclusively from his/her mother. Therefore the mitochondrial genome can provide important insight into maternal lineage and genealogy.

For more information:
Molecular Genealogy
An animation on mitochondrial inheritance by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1982

1982

Genentech markets the first recombinant DNA drug, a form of human insulin.

1982

The first gene patent is issued to Regents of the University of California for work on the expression of genes for chorionic somatomammotropin, a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. There are now over 4,000 patented genes.

For more information:
Intellectual Property and Genomics
An article by the National Human Genome Research Institute

1982

NIH's publicly accessible genetic sequence database, GenBank, is formed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Scientists submit genome sequence data that can then be retrieved by researchers from the archive.

For more information:
GenBank
Background information by the National Center for Biotechnology Information

1982

Scientists figure out how to add stably inherited new genes to animals. The first such "transgenic animals" are mice and fruit flies. By adding foreign or altered genes, scientists develop a new way to test gene function.

For more information:
Recombinant DNA Technology and Transgenic Animals
An article in Nature

How to Build a "Knockout Mouse"
An illustrated article on transgenic technology with mice by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1983

1983

Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

1983

Motorola introduces the first cell phone called the DynaTAC 8000x.

1983

Marvin Carruthers creates a way of constructing DNA fragments of a predetermined sequence from about 5 to 75 base pairs long. Together, he and Leroy Hood at the California Institute of Technology invent an instrument to automatically make such oligonucleotide fragments called a DNA synthesizer.

1983

A genetic marker linked to Huntington disease is found on chromosome 4, making Huntington disease the first genetic disease mapped using the developing toolkit of molecular biology. The exact gene associated with Huntington disease was discovered a decade later in 1993. Huntington disease is caused by an accumulation of abnormal "huntingtin" protein within neurons (shown in the image as a red area in the yellow neuron).

For more information:
Huntington Disease
Background information by the Genetics Home Resource

Finding a Gene on the Chromosome Map
A teaching curriculum by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Huntington Disease
An article by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1984

1984

Alec Jeffreys develops DNA fingerprinting - a laboratory analysis to identify individuals based upon their genetic information. The technique enters the courtroom as forensic evidence the following year.

For more information:
Who Ate the Cheese?
A classroom activity on DNA fingerprinting by The Biology Corner

1984

The first genetically engineered vaccines are developed.

For more information:
Construction of live vaccines...
A paper on genetically engineered vaccines published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 1984

1985

1985

The first genetically modified plant, Bt tobacco, is created. It contains an additional gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which makes the plant naturally insecticidal.

For more information:
Designer Seeds
An article by the National Academy of Sciences

1986

1986

Chronic granulomatous disease, becomes the first human disorder identified by positional cloning - a method of finding a gene without any knowledge of the protein the gene encodes.

For more information:
What is CGD?
An article by The CGD Society

1986

Teams of engineers and scientists from Caltech and Applied Biosystems, Inc. create the automated DNA fluorescence sequencer.

For more information:
Cycle Sequencing
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1986

The first biotech-derived interferon drugs are approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer. Interferons are proteins produced by T-lymphocytes that aid the immune system in fighting infections. They are also thought to be effective in the treatment of some autoimmune diseases and cancers. Image shows an Escherichia coli bacterium engineered to produce human gamma interferon (orange mass ringed in mauve).

1987

1987

The first comprehensive genetic map of human chromosomes is produced. Genetic maps identify the location of regions in the DNA that occur in various forms, or alleles. By tracking which variants are inherited in family members affected with a specific disease, the genes responsible for the disease can be found.

For more information:
Genetic Mapping
Background information by Genetic Map

The Human Genome Project

Determining the Human Sequence

Beginning in the mid 1980s, a number of national and international groups sponsored meetings to consider the feasibility and usefulness of mapping and sequencing the human genome (the collection of all genetic information present in a cell). A concerted program to map and sequence the human genome was recommended and United States Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health joined forces on the project.

In 1990, the Department of Energy and The National Institutes of Health published a plan for the first five years of what was projected to be a 15-year project. The goals of the project included: mapping the human genome and eventually determining the sequence of all 3.2 billion letters in it; mapping and sequencing the genomes of other organisms important to the study of biology; developing technology for analyzing DNA; and studying the ethical, legal and social implications of genome research.

Known as the Human Genome Project (HGP) this endeavor represented one of the greatest feats of exploration in history, becoming an international collaborative research effort. All data generated by the HGP were made freely and rapidly available on the Internet, providing researchers across the globe immediate access to genetic information. Completed in April 2003 (under budget and more than two years ahead of schedule), the HGP spurred a revolution in biotechnology around the world.

Having the complete sequence of the human genome is similar to having the parts list for a complex machine. The challenge becomes understanding how the parts work together to influence health and disease.

Intriguingly, the HGP identified approximately 20,000 human genes – a surprisingly low number. Compare this to 6,000 genes for a yeast cell, 13,000 for a fly, 18,000 for a worm and approximately 26,000 in a plant. Understanding how such a relatively small number of human genes can give rise to such a complex organism, remains a challenge for the future.
1989

1989

CFTR, the gene for cystic fibrosis, is discovered.

For more information:
Cystic Fibrosis
Background information by the Genetics Home Reference

1989

The Department of Energy and the NIH create the National Center for Genome Research with a 15-year plan to sequence the entire human genome. The government project is expected to cost $3 billion to map and sequence all the human DNA.

For more information:
National Human Genome Research Institute
The main website for the National Human Genome Research Institute by the National Institutes of Health

1990

1990

Operation Desert Storm, 1990-1991

1990

The Hubble Telescope is launched into space.

For more information:
NOVA scienceNOW: Saving Hubble
A video and classroom curriculum by PBS

1990

The Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) program is founded at the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy. The program is created in association with the Human Genome Project in anticipation of the issues that would arise due to newfound knowledge about human genetics.

For more information:
ELSI Research Program
Background information by the National Human Genome Research Institute

1990

Natalie and Danielle Edwards are the first babies born after pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). They are chosen for their female gender because their mother carries a gene mutation that would affect only boys. PGD is controversial when used for social reasons rather than medical reasons, as it brings up ethical issues regarding the selection of embryos based on gender and other traits.

For more information:
IVF techniques
An article by IVF-Infertility

1990

The Human Genome Project is launched as a collaborative effort to map all of the genes in the human body, with a projected cost of $13 billion. During the 1990's it was estimated that humans have greater than 100,000 genes, far more than the actual number of genes (approximately 21,000).

For more information:
Human Genome Project Information
Background information by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science

NOVA: Cracking the Code of Life
A video and classroom teaching curriculum by PBS

The Human Genome Project: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1990

Gene therapy is used to treat Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) in Ashanti DeSilva. The treatments help boost the patient's immune system although they do not provide a cure for the disorder. As gene therapy goes forward, additional setbacks appear, including an increased risk of leukemia, viral infection, and overreactive immune system response.

For more information:
Gene Therapy: Molecular Bandage?
Background information and interactive activities by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Possible Genetic Treatments of the Future
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency
Background information by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1992

1992

A second-generation genetic map of the human genome is developed. This map uses a newly identified type of genetic marker, called a microsatellite, allowing geneticists to more quickly locate disease genes.

For more information:
Genetic Mapping
Background information by the National Human Genome Research Institute

1993

1993

Jurassic Park is released in theaters. The movie explores the idea that dinosaur DNA can be extracted from fossilized mosquitos and grown in an egg, but it is not a feasible concept because DNA cannot survive for tens of millions of years without some degradation that would ruin the DNA replication process.

1994

1994

The FDA approves the sale of the first genetically modified food - the FLAVR SAVR tomato, deeming it as safe as conventionally-bred tomatoes. FLAVR SAVR tomatoes are modified to stay firm after harvest, so they can be left to ripen on the vine before shipping. A gene is added to prevent the breakdown of cell walls as the fruit ripens. Due to poor yields and high costs associated with processing and shipping, the FLAVR SAVR tomato is only available for a few years before production ceases in 1997.

For more information:
Genetically Modified Organisms
A teaching curriculum by the University of Pennsylvania

NOVA: Harvest of Fear
A video and teaching curriculum by PBS

What Are Genetically Modified Organisms?
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

1994

BRCA1 is the first gene associated with hereditary breast cancer to be identified. BRCA2 is discovered the following year in 1995. BRCA1 is patented by Myriad Genetic Laboratories in 2001, allowing Myriad to exclusively offer genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer.

For more information:
BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing
An article by the National Cancer Institute

1995

1995

The Institute for Genomic Research sequences the first complete genome, that of the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae which causes respiratory and other infections. The sequence of its 1,830,137 base-pair genome reveals the complete instruction book of a free-living organism for the first time.

For more information:
Haemophilus influenzae Serotype b (Hib) Disease
A fact sheet by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1995

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission extends workplace protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to cover discrimination based on genetic information.

For more information:
www.ada.gov
Americans with Disabilities Act

1996

1996

The Yeast genome (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is sequenced with just over 12 million base pairs packaged into 16 chromosomes. Yeast have approximately 6,000 genes.

1996

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) outlaws genetic discrimination in group health insurance plans.

For more information:
Understanding Health Information Privacy
Article by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

1996

The gene associated with hemochromatosis is discovered.

Hemochromatosis is a common genetic condition that affects iron metabolism and causes excess iron to build up in the body. Hemochromatosis is inherited in a recessive manner and is caused by mutations in the HFE gene.

1996

Dolly is born on July 5, 1996 at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland. She is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell and throughout her life she successfully gives birth to four offspring. Although she is a healthy sheep, she becomes ill and has to be put down at an early age in 2003. Her death leads many to question whether her DNA prematurely aged her and sparks the debate of whether cloning is morally acceptable.

For more information:
Cloning 101
An animation by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

Cloning
Background information and interactive activities by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1997

1997

The genome of Escherichia coli is sequenced. The E. coli genome consists of about 4,600,000 base pairs and contains approximately 4,000 genes.

For more information:
E. coli Genome Project
Background information by the University of Wisconsin-Madison

1997

The Hale-Bopp Comet, last seen in 4000BC, passes earth again.

1998

1998

Google is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University.

1998

30% of the U.S. soybean, cotton and corn crops are products of genetic engineering.

For more information:
Genetically Modified Crops
A fact sheet by Green Facts

1998

The first genome sequence of a multicellular organism, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, is completed. The worm's DNA sequence contains 97 million base pairs spread across six chromosomes. The worm's genome has about 18,000 genes; about forty percent of them are similar to genes found in humans.

For more information:
Roundworms
An article by the Dolan DNA Learning Center

1998

Seventeen years after the first embryonic stem cells were isolated from mice, human embryonic stem cells are first derived and grown into stem cell lines with the ability to become many different types of cells, a trait called "pluripotency." This allows for the possibility to use these versatile cells in future transplant therapies, drug testing, and disease research.

For more information:
Human Embryonic Stem Cells
An animation by Sumanas Inc.

NOVA scienceNOW: Stem Cells
A video and teacher curriculum by PBS

Stem cells
Background information by the Genetic Science Learning Center

1998

Favorable results with a new antibody therapy against breast cancer, Herceptin, heralds a new era of treatment based on molecular targeting of tumor cells.

For more information:
Herceptin
Company website

1998

A private company, Celera Genomics, forms with the intent of sequencing the human genome as an alternative to the publicly funded Human Genome Project.

For more information:
Celera
Company website

1999

1999

Jessie Gelsinger, an 18-year old with OTC deficiency, dies from an overreaction of his immune system after gene therapy. Although healthy before the procedure, he experienced multiple organ failure and brain death just four days after receiving his first treatment. The event marks a severe setback for gene therapy.

For more information:
The Case of Jesse Gelsinger
A teaching curriculum by the University of Pennsylvania

1999

HGP completes the first finished, full-length sequence of a human chromosome. Chromosome 22 is found to be 33,400,000 base pairs in length and contain at least 545 genes.

For more information:
Chromosome 22
Background information by the Genetics Home Reference

1999

The Euro becomes the new European currency.

The Genome Era

Understanding Our Genomes

While the completion of the HGP may have felt like the end of an era, it was in reality only the beginning. Scientists had very little knowledge of how cells utilized the information found in each genetic recipe to function and interact, both with each other and with the environment. Nor was there a clear understanding of how genes keep individuals healthy or predispose them to disease. A representative genome had been sequenced, but how many differences would be found if peoples from around the world were compared? How did the human sequence compare to those of other organisms? Sequencing the human genome raised more questions than it answered and additional studies are needed to move from sequence determination to functional understanding. Two such studies, the International HapMap project and the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA elements) have begun to catalog and annotate the information contained in those 3 billion nucleotides of DNA sequence.

While there are many more similarities than differences in our DNA, slight variations in our DNA can have a major impact on whether or not we develop a particular disease, how we respond to an infection and which drugs are most effective. In order to understand the effects of this genetic variation, we first need to identify and catalog the similarities and differences found across human populations. The International HapMap Project was created in 2003 to compare the genetic sequences of different individuals. Internationally funded, the project is a collaborative effort between scientists from Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Nigeria and the United States. The HapMap has examined over 4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the Human Genome and describes their location and how they are distributed within and across world populations. The project does not connect the variation to a specific illness, but rather provides the raw information that researchers can use to link genetic variation to disease risk.

ENCODE was also launched in 2003 with the goal of developing efficient ways to identify and precisely locate all of the protein-coding genes, non-protein-coding genes and other functional components in the human genome. The goal of ENCODE is to develop the parts list of biologically functional elements and subsequently determine the signals that activate or silence each of the parts, identifying how such signals interact with each other and the environment. The pilot phase of ENCODE analyzed 1% of the human genome and discovered that the majority of DNA in the examined regions have some sort of functional role. This challenges the long-standing view that the human genome consists of a relatively small set of functional elements (the genes) along with a vast amount of so-called “junk” DNA that is not biologically active. The new data indicate the genome contains very little unused sequence and is, in fact, a complex, interwoven network. The next challenge is to extend the ENCODE analysis to the entire human genome and begin the process of understanding the biology behind the findings.
2000

2000

A working fruit fly model of Parkinson's disease is created using gene splicing techniques to produce flies that exhibit both neural and physical symptoms of the disease. This model is important because the short lifespan of the fly allows researchers to quickly test and analyze results of drugs and treatments for Parkinson's disease.

For more information:
Parkinson Disease
Background information by the Genetics Home Reference

2000

A rough draft of the human (Homo sapien) genome is completed by both Celera Genomics and the Human Genome Project, sequencing about 96% of the genome. The Human Genome Project, led by Dr. Francis Collins (pictured left), predicts the number of human genes to be somewhere between 30,000-40,000. The cost to sequence the genome for the first time: $4 billion.

2000

Researchers catalog all the protein-protein interactions within the yeast cell - known as the yeast interactome.

For more information:
Yeast Interactome Project
An article by the Center for Cancer Systems Biology

2000

The genome of the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is sequenced.

For more information:
Drosophila Genome Resources
An article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information

2000

The fly (Drosophila) version of the human Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) is discovered. This protein is important in the body for axon pathways in the embryonic nervous system. The gene encoding this protein also shows extraordinary diversity. Alternative splicing allows it (a single gene) to produce more than 30,000 different forms of the DSCAM protein.

2000

"Golden Rice" is developed to prevent vitamin A deficiency, thought to cause blindness in up to 500,000 children each year. Genetically modified to produce and accumulate beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), the rice acquires a golden color. There is no fee for humanitarian use of golden rice and farmers are allowed to keep and replant seed each year.

For more information:
Golden Rice
Project website

2001

2001

FDA approves Gleevec, a genetics-based drug to treat leukemia.

For more information:
Gleevec
Company website

2001

Terrorists attack the U.S. World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

2001

Apple introduces the iPod.

2001

The Segway is invented by Dean Kamen and introduced to the public for the price of $3000.

2001

RNA interference (RNAi), first described in 1998, is shown to silence the activity of targeted genes in mammalian cells. The key therapeutic advantage of using RNAi lies in its ability to specifically reduce or shut off the activity of disease causing genes.

For more information:
RNAi
A teaching curriculum by PBS

RNAi: Understanding the Process
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2001

The methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria genome is sequenced, potentially providing information regarding possible treatment options and the origin of different strains.

For more information:
Super Bugs: Bacterial Drug Resistance
A video by the Virginia Commonwealth University

Rx for Survival: Rise of the Superbugs
A video and teaching curriculum by PBS

2002

2002

The Department of Energy launches the Genomes to Life program to increase research on biological-based sources of energy and make advances in systems biology, computation, and technology. Some areas of focus for this project are renewable energy, carbon cycling and environmental cleanup.

For more information:
Genomic Science Program
Program website

2002

The mouse (Mus musculus) genome is sequenced with 2.5 billion bases and 20,000-25,000 genes. The genome is important because mice are often used as model systems in disease research.

2002

A genetic link for bipolar disorder is discovered. A family-based study done by scientists at the University of Toronto found two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are statistically linked to bipolar disorder, providing insight into the genetic contribution to the condition.

For more information:
Bipolar Disorder
A fact sheet by the National Institute of Mental Health

2002

Biotechnology-based crops are grown in 16 countries on an estimated 145 million acres.

For more information:
Biotechnology in Crops: Issues for the Developing World
An article by Action Bioscience

2002

Adam Nash, the first in vitro fertilization "savior sibling," is born. Adam is born through a process called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which allows parents to select embryos for implantation that have a particular genetic characteristic. Mr. and Mrs. Nash use IVF and PGD to select embryos that are an exact donor match for their daughter, Molly, who has Fanconi Anemia. This allows Adam's umbilical cord blood to be used to treat his sister's condition. This case sparks an ethical debate about whether parents should be allowed to create "savior siblings" and what medical expectations should be placed on these children.

For more information:
Using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis to Save a Sibling: The Story of Molly and Adam Nash
An article by the University of Utah

2003

2003

The completed sequence of the human genome is published, identifying the sequence of nearly all ~3 billion chemical bases and mapping the location of ~21,000-23,000 human genes. The Human Genome Project also predicted the intron/exon boundaries for most genes and in many cases identified known or predicted amino acid sequence for the corresponding proteins.

For more information:
All About the Human Genome Project

2003

U.S. launches war against Iraq.

2003

U.S. Congress officially observes the first DNA Day on April 25th in honor of the completion of the Human Genome Project and the 50th anniversary of the publication of Watson and Crick's paper describing the double helix structure of DNA.

For more information:
DNA Day
Teacher resources by the National Human Genome Research Institute

2003

GloFish, the first biotech pet, hits the North American market. Initially developed to detect water pollutants, the fish glows under various wavelengths of light thanks to the addition of a natural fluorescence gene.

For more information:
Glofish
Company website

2003

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project is launched to identify all of the functional parts of the genome. It seeks to determine what sequences regulate the transcriptional activity of the genes. It builds upon the findings of the Human Genome Project to develop the operating manual for the human genome.

For more information:
The ENCODE Project
ENCODE Project website
Exploring and Understanding the ENCODE project
Biotech Basics Article

2003

The International HapMap Project is created to catalog commonly occurring single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in human DNA. Phase 1, completed in 2005, identifies approximately four million SNPs, including their location in the genome and their frequency across four different populations. Subsequent phases of the project detect additional SNPs and increase the number of the populations examined. Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS) use SNPs identified by the HapMap project to find common genetic variants that affect health and disease.

For more information:
International HapMap Project
Project website

Genome-wide Association Studies
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Making SNPs Make Sense
An interactive activity by the Genetic Science Learning Center

2004

2004

The chicken (Gallus gallus) genome is sequenced.

2004

An RNAi product for one form of age-related macular degeneration enters clinical trials.

For more information:
Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration
A fact sheet by the National Eye Institute

2004

FDA approves the first microarray system for diagnosing potentially adverse drug reactions. The AmpliChip CYP450 test, developed by Roche, becomes the first FDA approved pharmacogenetic test. Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is a group of enzymes that metabolize more than 30 different medications. The test uses genetic information (SNP data) to determine how quickly an individual's CYP450 can metabolize medication. This information can help physicians determine the type of medication and dose to give a particular patient.

For more information:
Personalized Medicine
Background information and interactive activities by the Genetic Science Learning Center

Personalized Medicine
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

DNA Microarray
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2005

2005

The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) genome is sequenced.

2005

454 pyrosequencing is developed by Roche Applied Science as the first "next generation" genetic sequencing method. It allows for extended base sequencing up to 1 billion bases per day and a much higher accuracy rate than previous methods.

For more information:
454 Sequencing
An article by Roche

2005

Researchers sequence the DNA of rice (Oryza sativa), the main food source for two-thirds of the world's population. Rice is the first crop to have its genome decoded.

2005

The Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology is formed as a non-profit 501c(3) organization. Groundbreaking for the Institute begins a year later, and its doors officially open in 2008.

For more information:
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Institute website

2005

The dog (Canis familiaris) genome sequence is completed.

2006

2006

The X-Prize Foundation announces it will award $10 million to the first private team to sequence the genomes of 100 people in 10 days.

For more information:
Archon X Prize for Genomics
Prize website

2006

Sequencing begins on DNA extracted from bone samples of Neanderthal, the closest hominid relative of modern humans. Neanderthal became extinct some 30,000 years ago. The completed genome sequence for Homo neanderthalensis is published in 2010, and reveals a large amount of inbreeding between Neanderthals and humans around 45,000 years ago.

For more information:
Neanderthal Genome Sequenced
An article by the National Institutes of Health

Neanderthals on Trial
A video and teaching curriculum by PBS

2006

The Cancer Genome Atlas Project (TCGA) is started by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute. It strives to map genomic changes in all major human cancers to better understand how DNA mutations cause cells to become cancerous. It is hoped that this understanding could lead to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

For more information:
The Cancer Genome Atlas
Project website

Biotech 101: Cancer
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2007

2007

The companies 23andMe and deCODEme begin offering direct-to-consumer personal genetic testing. These tests, and others like them, provide individuals with personalized risk information for a variety of conditions and traits. It is thought that this information can help individuals and healthcare professionals select medical management and prevention strategies to reduce disease risk. In 2013, the US FDA halted genetic health information being delivered to customers directly without approval. DeCODE Genetics eliminated this service from their repertoire while 23andMe continues to work with the FDA for approval of various health reports to be delivered to their customers.

For more information:
23andMe
Company website

Personal DNA Testing
A video produced by PBS

2007

Researchers find at least 10% of the human genome contains Copy Number Variants (CNVs) - deletions, insertions, duplications and complex rearrangements of 1000 basepairs or greater in length. The presence of extensive CNVs suggests an additional source of genetic risk factors for disease.

For more information:
The Copy Number Variation (CNV) Project
An article by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Copy Number Variation
An article by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2007

The sequence of the cat (Felis catus) genome is completed.

2007

Scientists identify a gene that helps regulate left and right handedness.

For more information:
Heredity and Traits
A website with background information and interactive activities from the Genetic Science Learning Center

2007

Researchers discover the first genetic variant that contributes to differences in human height.

2007

Jim Watson and Craig Venter become the first two people to have their entire genomes sequenced. The process takes approximately two months and costs nearly $400,000 per individual.

2008

2008

The corn (Zea mays) genome is sequenced.

For more information:
Maize genome mapped
An article published in Nature

2008

The Large Hadron Collider begins operation as the world's largest, most powerful particle accelerator.

For more information:
The Large Hadron Collider
A fact sheet by the European Organization for Nuclear Research

2008

Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute synthetically recreate and assemble the entire 583,000 base genome of Mycoplasma genitalium.

2008

Barack Obama is elected as the first African American president of the United States.

2008

Applied Biosystems creates a new method of genomic sequencing by ligation called SOLiD. This method has a greatly reduced error rate from the Sanger sequencing method because it samples every base twice, and can sequence up to 300 gigabases of DNA per run at only $3,000 per genome.

For more information:
Overview of SOLiD™ Sequencing Chemistry
An article by Applied Biosystems

2008

The 1000 Genomes Project is begun. This initiative builds on improvements in DNA sequencing technology that reduce the cost of identifying DNA variation. It is the first large scale project to sequence human genomes and seeks to identify genetic variation at a higher resolution than was available with the HapMap Project.

For more information:
1000genomes.org
IGSR:The International Genome Sample Resource

2008

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is signed into law by President George W. Bush. This federal law protects individuals from descrimination by health insurers and employers based on their genetic information.

For more information:
www.GINAHelp.org
GINA website

Genetic Testing
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2009

2009

Two monkeys with color-blindness have their vision restored through gene therapy. By injecting a corrected copy of the associated gene into their eyes, scientists were able to restore full color vision to both primates. Although risky, the procedure holds potential for the treatment of color-blindness in humans.

For more information:
Gene Therapy Cures Colour-blind Monkeys
An article published in NewScientist

2009

The soybean (Glycine max) genome sequence is completed, revealing 46,430 protein-coding genes. This information can be used to create different varieties of soybeans that could increase crop yield or be used in biofuels due to its high oil content.

For more information:
Joint Genome Institute: Glycine max
A fact sheet about the soybean genome by the Joint Genome Institute/Center for Integrative Genomics

2009

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for determining the exact structure and function of the ribosome in DNA translation.

For more information:
Structure and Function of the Ribosome
An article published by the Nobel Foundation

2009

The Human Connectome Project is launched by the NIH to map the circuitry of the adult human brain. Knowing how the brain is wired can allow researchers to better understand how certain neurological diseases affect the brain and how connectivity in the brain changes throughout childhood development.

For more information:
NIH Launches the Human Connectome Project to Unravel the Brain’s Connections
An article published by the National Institute of Mental Health

2009

Illumina offers personal genome sequencing for $48,000. This allows an individual to determine if they have a genetic predisposition for certain conditions or traits.

For more information:
Illumina
Company website

2009

Scientists discover a genetic link to autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), both of which express physical symptoms of repetitive behavior. In each case, they find a deletion in a receptor gene in the brain that causes a change in chemical balance.

For more information:
Silenced Gene for Social Behavior Found in Autism
An article published by the National Institute of Mental Health

NOVA: Autism Genes
A video produced by PBS

2010

2010

Researchers successfully use stem cells to restore vision to patients who have been blinded due to damage to the cornea by heat or chemical burns. The study shows that not only can it be restored, but that the effects are long-term, with patients experiencing stable vision for over 10 years.

For more information:
Stem Cells Shown to Restore Sight To Eyes Damaged By Burns
An article published in Popular Science

2010

The patents held by Myriad Genetics Laboratories for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are challenged in a New York District Court. The court rules the patents to be invalid on the grounds that the product being patented is naturally occurring and should not be patented.

For more information:
ACLU Challenges Patents On Breast Cancer Genes: BRCA
An article published by the American Civil Liberties Union

2010

Artificial plastic antibodies are created and successfully used to fight specific antigens in the blood streams of mice. This opens the door to fabricating tailor-made antibodies to boost the immune system in fighting off infections and allergic reactions in the body.

For more information:
Recognition, Neutralization, and Clearance of Target Peptides in the Bloodstream of Living Mice by Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Nanoparticles: A Plastic Antibody
An article published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

2010

The first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell is created at the J. Craig Venter Institute. The cell is designed on the computer, then implemented in the laboratory to successfully become the first bacterial cell to be controlled by a synthetic genome. This gives researchers the ability to analyze and understand how the genetic instructions for a bacterial cell actually work.

For more information:
First Self-Replicating Synthetic Bacterial Cell
An article by the J. Craig Venter Institute

2010

The NIH publishes the genome for 178 microbes that inhabit the human body. This provides the opportunity to further understand how these microbes affect human health and disease to create potential treatments.

For more information:
I, microbe: Sequencing the bugs in our bodies
An article published in NewScientist

2010

The first genome containing a disease-causing mutation is sequenced. Of the five people who have their genomes decoded, one has a single-gene mutation that causes Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy and the other four are two children with rare genetic diseases and their parents. Since all the genomes sequenced previously had been limited to non-diseased individuals, this new information helps scientists pinpoint genes associated with certain diseases.

For more information:
Disease Cause Is Pinpointed With Genome
An article in the New York Times

Gene Abnormalities
Background information by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2011

2011

A team of physicians at Wisconsin Children's Hospital are among the first to use whole genome sequencing as a clinical tool. Information gained from Nicholas Volker's genome allowed his physician to determine the cause for his severe intestinal symptoms that were nearly fatal. His genome also provided insight into a life-saving treatment - an umbilical cord blood transplant. This treatment has dramatically improved Nicholas' symptoms and prognosis.

For more information:
One In A Billion: A boy's life, a medical mystery
A Pulitzer-Prize winning series by the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

2011

The full genetic sequence of 1,092 healthy individuals is published as part of the 1,000 Genomes Project. The most comprehensive catalog of common human genetic variation to date, it identifies an almost complete set of DNA variants across 26 different populations for any region of the genome. The collection serves as a reference to compare and analyze DNA changes identified in individuals with genetic disorders.

For more information:
1000genomes.org
IGSR:The International Genome Sample Resource

2011

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hits near the coast of Honshu, Japan, killing over 15,000 people and leaving over 130,000 displaced from their homes.

2011

Research on genomic samples of more than 15,000 children with developmental delay identified more large CNVs (copy number variations) compared to control samples. CNVs are stretches of DNA that may be missing or duplicated multiple times on a chromosome.

For more information:
Copy Number Variation
A Biotech Basics Article from the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2011

Researchers develop an approach to treat leukemia by modifying the patient's cells to recognize and attack the cancer. Two of the three trial patients experience complete remission and the third is stable with partial response.They plan to test the approach with a larger population. If the therapy is successful, the approach may be modified for other cancers.

2011

The tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is added to the growing list of organisms that have had their genome sequenced. By sequencing the 3.3 billion bases of the tasmanian devil genome (300 million bases longer than a human genome), scientists hope to learn more about the contagious facial cancer that is threatening the tasmanian devil population.

For more information:
Sequencing of Tasmanian Devil Genome Suggests New Attack on Contagious Cancer, Clues for Conservation
An article by Scientific American

2012

2012

Using the Large Hadron Collider, scientists at CERN discover what they believe to be the much sought-after Higgs boson particle. They believe this to be the missing link in the Standard Model, a theory in physics which describes three of the four basic forces in nature.

2012

Scientists are able to effectively sequence the genome of a fetus by extracting maternal blood, without the use of a paternal sample. This non-invasive blood test could eventually replace procedures such as amniocentesis, which pose a risk to the fetus.

2012

The Human Microbiome Project, a large scale, collaborative research initiative, releases a collection of papers cataloging the population of bacteria, viruses and fungi living on and in nearly 250 healthy Americans. This work provides a snapshot of the microbial populations present over multiple body sites, as well as their relative abundance.

For more information:
Biotech 201: Microbiome
A series of four 1.5 hour videos by Dr. Neil Lamb, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

2012

Data from the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project is released. 442 researchers from 32 labs across the world, including HudsonAlpha, collaborated to catalog and map more than 4 million regulatory regions in the human genome. Intriguingly, the data suggest that a much greater fraction of the genome has functional significance than previously thought. The project continues to gather data, which is housed in publically available online databases. Other researchers use this data to explore how the human genome is regulated.

For more information:
The ENCODE Project
Project website

Nature ENCODE
YouTube Video from Nature

2013

2013

The genomes of domesticated, heirloom, and ancestral wheat strains are sequenced. Scientists locate ancient wheat species resistant to wheat steam rust that can quickly decimate a healthy wheat crop.

For more information:
The Life Cycle of Wheat Stem Rust
A short film produced by Bourlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI)

2013

German researchers publish, and due to public outcry remove from the general public view, the genomic sequence of HeLa cells. HeLa cells are the first continuously cultured cancer cell line.

For more information:
'Henrietta Lacks': A Donor's Immortal Legacy
Article about the history of Henrietta Lacks, and the HeLa cells by NPR

2013

Scientists perform an experiment in which microbiomes from obese and lean humans are transplanted into germ-free mice. The mice that receive the obese microbiomes gain weight, while the mice that are given the lean human microbiomes do not.

For more information:
Evolution and Obesity
Background information by the Genetics Science Learning Center

2013

Researchers produce first high-contrast images of a bundle of seven DNA double helices.

For more information:
Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix
Article by NANO Letters

2013

Scientists identify several corn varieties that are tolerant of aluminum rich soil. Such soil, found in the tropics and subtropics, contains higher levels of acidity that break down aluminum found in clays within the ground. Aluminum is toxic to growing roots, causing plants to have stunted growth among other developmental issues.

For more information:
In triplicate, genes make maize tolerant to toxic soil
An article published by Cornell University

2013

ClinVar is a database where individuals submit human DNA changes and their assessment of its functional and clinical consequence.

For more information:
ClinVar
The ClinVar website

2013

Genome sequencing of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus provides insight into a deadly disease called White-nose syndrome that affects bats in eastern North America. European bats affected with the same fungus depict milder symptoms as compared to their North American counterparts, which suggest that the European bats have evolved ways to resist many of the harmful effects of the fungus.

For more information:
Bats in Crisis
Mini-Documentary about White-nose Syndrome created by National Park Services

2014

2014

A French research team identifies a new plant cell organelle: the tannosome.

The tannosome is responsible for the production of tannins, which provides the bitter taste associated with some teas, wines, and unripe fruit. Tannins are thought to protect the plant from predators.

For more information:
What is a Tannosome?
Article in Oxford Journals about tannosome discovery

Inside a Cell
Interactive activity showing the inside of a cell by the Genetic Science Learning Center

2014

Researchers develop genetically modified apples that are resistant to browning. The apples use RNAi technology to suppress the chemical reaction that causes browning. Even though the apple resists browning, it still decomposes over time, just like traditional apples.

For more information:
Arctic Apples
Arctic Apples Company Website

2014

Research finds that a loss of Chromosome Y (LOY) in humans is associated with an increased risk of cancer and a shortened life expectancy. Previous clinical effects of LOY had not been documented.

For more information:
Evolution of the Y Chromosome
Article and animation by Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2014

New research suggests dog domestication happened before the widespread use of human agriculture.

For more information:
Dogs likely originated in Europe more than 18,000 years ago
Article by pyhs.org discussing the origin of domestic dogs

2014

Scientists develop a technique to study the impact of an extra chromosome that borrows a behavior from female cells. This technique offers researchers insight on how extra copies of genes alter the biology of cells. In addition to furthering research on Down syndrome, this new information can also shed light on the impact of other conditions caused by additional chromosomes.

For more information:
Shutting Down the Extra Chromosome in Down’s Syndrome Cells
Article by National Geographic on “XIST” gene.

2014

A new sequencing study of 6,000 children with autism spectrum disorder identified 15 individuals with disruptive mutations in the CHD8 gene. This study identified CHD8 as an evolutionarily conserved transcription gene involved in neuron growth and development.

For more information:
A Lecture on CHD8 by Yea Jin Kaeser-Woo, PhD
Video produced by Autism Consortium

2014

Researchers publish an analysis of 12 cancer types as a part of TCGA's Pan-Cancer project. They find that mutations in a handful of genes, such as TP53, are common across different cancers. This suggest that therapies targeted for specific genetic mutations in one type of cancer may in fact be beneficial for many cancer types.

2014

Plasma phospholipids are used in a study to assist in the identification of Alzheimer’s disease. A major focus of this study is to determine potential blood-based biomarkers, and 10 lipids are helping identify individuals who will develop mild cognitive impairment.

For more information:
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
A short film titled by TED-Ed

How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
Article about Alzheimer’s disease by the Genetic Science Learning Center

2015

2015

ClinVar data is a key part of a resource called ClinGen. It seeks to help scientists and physicians understand the relationship between DNA change and human health to impact patient care.

For more information:
ClinGen Website
Official website of ClinGen containing overviews and descriptions.

2015

The 1,000 Genomes Project concludes with a final analysis of the genomes of over 2,500 individuals. Over the course of its existence, the project identified over 88 million variants (84.7 million SNPs, 3.6 million short insertions/deletions and 60,000 structural variants).

For more information:
1000genomes.org
IGSR:The International Genome Sample Resource

2015

Genome editing refers to the process of using nuclease enzymes to insert short segments of DNA directly into the target’s genome. These ‘edits’ can be directed to specific regions of the genome using homologous sequences of DNA. Endonuclease enzymes cut DNA like molecular scissors, then stitch the inserted DNA fragments into place using the same mechanisms used in DNA repair. This technique can be used to make targeted changes in the DNA of an organism.

For more information:
Jennifer Doudna TED Talk
Jennifer Doudna TED talk about the discovery of CRISPR Cas-9. Includes a discussion of the potential uses and ethical implications.

HudsonAlpha Biotechnology Guidebook
The 2016 Biotechnology Discoveries and Applications Guidebook. Page 16 - Human Gene Editing.

2016

2016

TCGA concludes after identifying genomic changes present in over 33 types of human cancer. The resulting atlas of data allows scientists around the world to develop better tools for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

For more information:
cancergenome.gov
Arctic the TCGA website