1797: First vaccination. Edward Jenner takes pus from a cowpox lesion, inserts it into an incision on a boy’s arm.
1830: Proteins are discovered. 1833: First enzyme is discovered and isolated.
1865: Gregor Mendel discovers the laws of inheritance by studying flowers in his garden. The science of genetics begins.
1915: Phages — viruses that only infect bacteria — are discovered
1927: Herman Muller discovers that radiation causes defects in chromosomes.
1944: DNA is proven to carry genetic information by Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty.
1953: James Watson and Francis Crick describe the double helical structure of DNA. They shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology with Maurice Wilkins.
1955: The amino acid sequence of insulin is discovered by Frederick Sanger.
1958: DNA is made in a test tube for the first time. Sickle cell disease is shown to occur due to a change in one amino acid
1971: The first complete synthesis of a gene occurs. Discovery of restriction enzymes that cut and splice genetic material very specifically occurs. This opens the way for gene cloning.
1973: Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer perfect genetic engineering techniques to cut and paste DNA using restriction enzymes.
1975: Georges Kohler and Cesar Milstein develop the technology to produce monoclonal antibodies — highly specific, purified antibodies derived from only one clone of cells that recognize only one antigen. They shared the
1984: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Neils Jerne.
1981: The first transgenic animals are produced by transferring genes from other animals into mice.
1983: The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, which makes unlimited copies of genes and gene fragments, is conceived.
Kary Mullis, who was born in Lenoir, N.C., wins the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery.
1986: First recombinant vaccine is approved for human use: hepatitis B. First anti-cancer drug is produced through biotech: interferon.
1987: First approval for field tests of a genetically modified food plant: virus-resistant tomatoes.
1994: Genetically modified tomatoes are sold in the U.S. for the first time.
1990: The Human Genome Project — an international effort to maps all of the genes in the human genome — is launched.
2002: The draft version of the human genome is published.
1997: Scientists report the birth of Dolly, the first animal cloned from an adult cell.
1998: Human embryonic stem cell lines are established. They offer hope to many because they may be able to replace diseased or dysfunctional cells.
2003: The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus is sequenced three weeks after its discovery. 2004: The first cloned pet — a kitten — is delivered to its owner. She is called CopyCat (or Cc for short).
2006: A recombinant vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) receives FDA approval. The virus causes genital warts and can cause cervical cancer.