DNA history

  • Mendel and his Peas

    Mendel and his Peas
    Gregor Mendel, through his work on pea plants, discovered the fundamental laws of inheritance. He deduced that genes come in pairs and are inherited as distinct units, one from each parent. Mendel tracked the segregation of parental genes and their appearance in the offspring as dominant or recessive traits. He recognized the mathematical patterns of inheritance from one generation to the next.
  • Mendel and His Peas

    Mendel and His Peas
    2) The Law of Independent Assortment: Genes for different traits are sorted separately from one another so that the inheritance of one trait is not dependent on the inheritance of another.
    3) The Law of Dominance: An organism with alternate forms of a gene will express the form that is dominant.
  • Friederich Miescher FRIEDRICH MIESCHER

    Friederich Miescher FRIEDRICH MIESCHER
    Friedrich (Fritz) Miescher isolated the first crude preparation of DNA, he just didn’t know it. He named it nuclein. Fritz came from a well-respected family that was part of the intellectual elite in Basel, Switzerland. His father was a physician and taught pathological anatomy, and his uncle, Wilhelm His, was a well-known embryologist.
    Miescher was an excellent student despite his shyness and a hearing handicap.
  • Friedrich

    Miescher initially wanted to be a priest, but his father opposed the idea and Miescher entered medical school. When he graduated in 1868, Miescher ruled out specialties where patient interactions were necessary because of his hearing problem. He decided to base his career on medical research. He went to the University of Tübingen to study under Felix Hoppe-Seyler in the newly established faculty of natural science.
  • Friederich

    Hoppe-Seyler's laboratory was one of the first in Germany to focus on tissue chemistry. At a time when scientists were still debating the concept of "cell," Hoppe-Seyler and his lab were isolating the molecules that made up cells. Miescher was given the task of researching the composition of lymphoid cells – white blood cells.
    These cells were difficult to extract from the lymph glands, but they were found in great quantities in the pus from infections.
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  • Carl Erich Correns

    Carl Erich Correns
    Nägeli and Correns' connection was more than just scientific; Correns eventually married Nägeli's grandniece. Correns was a tutor at the University of Tübingen when he began to experiment with trait inheritance in plants in 1892. Correns already knew about some of Mendel's hawkweed plant experiments from Nägeli. Nägeli, however, never talked about Mendel's key pea plant results, so Correns was initially unaware of Mendel's laws of heredity.
  • Carl Erich Correns

    Carl Erich Correns
    Correns and de Vries were the ones who most clearly "redefined" Mendel's laws. Mendel, in his paper, spoke about the "law of combination of different characters" and talked about "the law of independent assortment." Mendel implied that the segregation of factors occurred in the production of sex cells. Correns (with credit to de Vries) restated Mendel's results, giving us Mendel's law of segregation and Mendel's law of independent assortment.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan

    Thomas Hunt Morgan
    Morgan was a professor at Bryn Mawr College where he taught biology and other natural science subjects. He continued his own research, and published books and papers on embryology and zoology. In 1904, his good friend, Edmund Wilson, asked him to join the staff at Columbia University as Professor of Experimental Zoology. Morgan accepted, and so began the Drosophila chapter of Morgan's life.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan

    Thomas Hunt Morgan
    Morgan had become interested in species variation, and in 1911, he established the "Fly Room" at Columbia to determine how a species changed over time. research using Drosophila melanogaster, fruit flies. Though initially against the idea that the behavior of chromosomes can explain inheritance, Morgan became the leading supporter of the idea. Morgan and his students, provided the proof for the chromosomal theory of heredity, genetic linkage, chromosomal crossing over a and non-disjunction.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan

    Thomas Hunt Morgan
    He became less involved with Drosophila work and returned to his earlier interests in embryology.
    In 1933, Thomas Hunt Morgan received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in establishing the chromosomal theory of inheritance. He shared the prize money with his children, and those of his long-time colleagues, Alfred Sturtevant and Calvin Bridges.
  • Hermann Muller

    Hermann Muller
    Hermann Muller showed that X-rays could induce mutations. He remained at Columbia for graduate school where he spent time in T.H. Morgan's Drosophila lab. Muller joined Morgan's other students in stealing small milk bottles from apartment steps to house the flies. But Muller clashed with Morgan and his student, because Muller felt that they did not fully acknowledge his ideas in their papers.
    Consequently, Muller appears on few papers that came from the Fly Lab except his own.
  • Hermann Muller

    Hermann Muller
    In the 1920s, Muller performed his Nobel prize-winning research showing that X-rays could induce mutations and he became instantly famous. Muller used his fame to caution against the indiscriminate use of X-rays in medicine, but despite his warnings, some physicians even prescribed X-rays to stimulate ovulation in sterile women. His warnings angered many doctors and were largely ignored.

    His first experience with research was a clinical study he did on jaundice in 1942. Kornberg suffered from mild jaundice himself and while working as an intern in Strong Memorial Hospital, he became interested in the incidences and symptoms of mild vs. severe jaundice. His clinical study was published and caught the attention of Rolla Dyer, the Director of the National Institute of Health. Dyer appointed Kornberg to a research post at NIH.
  • Rosalind Franklin

    Rosalind Franklin produced the X-ray crystallography pictures of BDNA which Watson and Crick used to determine the structure of double-stranded DNA. When she graduated, Franklin was awarded a research scholarship to do graduate work. She spent a year in R.G.W. Norrish's lab without great success. Norrish recognized Franklin's potential but he was not very encouraging or supportive toward his female student.
  • Rosalind Franklin

    In 1951, Franklin was offered a 3-year research scholarship at King's College in London. With her knowledge, Franklin was to set up and improve the X-ray crystallography unit at King's College. Maurice Wilkins was already using X-ray crystallography to try to solve the DNA problem at King's College.

    In 1953, Kornberg was appointed head of the Department of Microbiology in the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. It was here that he isolated DNA polymerase I and show that life (DNA) can be made in a test tube. In 1959, Kornberg shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Severo Ochoa—Kornberg for the enzymatic synthesis of DNA, Ochoa for the enzymatic synthesis of RNA.

    Nirenberg shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Har Gobind Khorana and Robert Holley for cracking the genetic code. Nirenberg's research now focuses on the development of the nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster. He runs a lab in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH. He is still passionate about research – the joy of discovery and the wonder of Nature's plan.

    After completing his Ph.D. in 1966, Sulston conducted postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies on the chemical origins of life. He returned to England in 1969 to join Sydney Brenner’s group at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. With Brenner, Sulston studied the biology and genetics of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans.

    This millimeter-long worm is particularly advantageous as a model organism as it is transparent and has only 959 cells, so every cell division and differentiation can be followed under the microscope. Sulston had his first big breakthrough in 1976, when he described the cell lineage for a part of the developing nervous system of C.
  • 1983

    LANL and LLNL begin production of DNA clone (cosmid) libraries representing single chromosom
  • 1984

    DOE OHER and ICPEMC cosponsor Alta, Utah, conference highlighting the growing role of recombinant DNA technologies. OTA incorporates Alta proceedings into report acknowledging value of human genome reference sequence.
  • 1985

    Robert Sinsheimer holds meeting on human genome sequencing at University of California, Santa Cruz.
    At OHER, Charles DeLisi and David A. Smith commission the first Santa Fe conference to assess the feasibility of a Human Genome Initiative.
  • 1986

    Following the Santa Fe conference, DOE OHER announces Human Genome Initiative. With $5.3 million, pilot projects begin at DOE national laboratories to develop critical resources and technologies.
    First Santa Fe Conference is held, March 3-4, 1986. See Nature: Meetings that changed the world: Santa Fe 1986, (Oct. 16, 2008.)
  • 1987

    Congressionally chartered DOE advisory committee, HERAC, recommends a 15-year, multidisciplinary, scientific, and technological undertaking to map and sequence the human genome. DOE designates multidisciplinary human genome centers.
    NIH NIGMS begins funding of genome projects.
  • 1988

    Reports by congressional OTA and NAS NRC committees recommend concerted genome research program.
    HUGO founded by scientists to coordinate efforts internationally.
    First annual Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting on human genome mapping and sequencing.
    DOE and NIH sign MOU outlining plans for cooperation on genome research.
    Telomere (chromosome end) sequence having implications for aging and cancer research is identified at LANL.
  • 1989

    DNA STSs recommended to correlate diverse types of DNA clones.
    DOE and NIH establish Joint ELSI Working Group.
    First DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop scanned PDF
  • 1990

    DOE and NIH present joint 5-year U.S. HGP plan to Congress. The 15-year project formally begins.
    Projects begun to mark gene sites on chromosome maps as sites of mRNA expression.
    Research and development begun for efficient production of more stable, large-insert BACs.
  • 1991

    Human chromosome mapping data repository, GDB, established.
  • 1992

    Low-resolution genetic linkage map of entire human genome published.
    Guidelines for data release and resource sharing announced by DOE and NIH.
  • 1993

    International IMAGE Consortium established to coordinate efficient mapping and sequencing of gene-representing cDNAs.
    The Scientist 13[4]:17, Feb. 15, 1999 Hot Papers In Genomics:
    G. Lennon, C. Auffray, M. Polymeropoulos, M.B. Soares, "The I.M.A.G.E. Consortium: An Integrated Molecular Analysis of Genomes and Their Expression," Genomics, 33:151­2, 1996. (Cited in more than 290 papers since publication)
  • 1993

    DOE-NIH ELSI Working Group's Task Force on Genetic and Insurance Information releases recommendations.
    DOE and NIH revise 5-year goals [Science 262, 43-46 (Oct. 1, 1993)].
    French Généthon provides mega-YACs to the genome community.
    IOM releases U.S. HGP-funded report, "Assessing Genetic Risks." LBNL implements novel transposon-mediated chromosome-sequencing system.
    GRAIL sequence-interpretation service provides Internet access at ORNL.
  • 1994

    Genetic-mapping 5-year goal achieved 1 year ahead of schedule.
    Completion of second-generation DNA clone libraries representing each human chromosome by LLNL and LBNL.
    Genetic Privacy Act, first U.S. HGP legislative product, proposed to regulate collection, analysis, storage, and use of DNA samples and genetic information obtained from them; endorsed by ELSI Working Group.
    DOE MGP launched; spin-off of HGP.
    LLNL chromosome paints commercialized.
  • 1994

    SBH technologies from ANL commercialized.
    DOE HGP Information Web site activated for public and researchers.
  • 1995

    LANL and LLNL announce high-resolution physical maps of chromosome 16 and chromosome 19, respectively.
    Moderate-resolution maps of chromosomes 3, 11, 12, and 22 maps published.
    Physical map with over 15,000 STS markers published.
  • 1995

    First (nonviral) whole genome sequenced (for the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae).
    Sequence of smallest bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium, completed; provides a model of the minimum number of genes needed for independent existence.
    EEOC guidelines extend ADA employment protection to cover discrimination based on genetic information related to illness, disease, or other conditions.
  • 1996

    NIH NCHGR becomes National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
    Escherichia coli genome sequence completed.
    Second large-scale sequencing strategy meeting held in Bermuda. (see also summary)
    High-resolution physical maps of chromosomes X and 7 completed.
  • 1996

    DOE-NIH Task Force on Genetic Testing releases final report and recommendations.
    DOE forms Joint Genome Institute for implementing high-throughput activities at DOE human genome centers, initially in sequencing and functional genomics.
    UNESCO adopts Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights
  • 1998

    Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, to continue GDB data collection, curation.
    Caenorhabditis elegans genome sequence completed.
    DOE and NIH reveal new five-year plan for HGP, predict project completion by 2003.
    JGI exceeds sequencing goal, achieves 20 Mb for FY 1998.
    GeneMap'98 containing 30,000 markers released.
    Incyte Pharmaceuticals announces plans to sequence human genome in 2 years.
  • 1998

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium sequenced.
    Celera Genomics formed to sequence much of human genome in 3 years using HGP-generated resources.
    DOE funds production BAC end sequencing projects
    Largest-ever ELSI meeting attended by over 800 from diverse disciplines and sponsored by DOE; Whitehead Institute; and the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.
    Human Genome Project passes midpoint.
  • 1999

    First Human Chromosome Completely Sequenced! On December 1, researchers in the Human Genome Project announced the complete sequencing of the DNA making up human chromosome 22.
    Joint Genome Institute sequencing facility opens in Walnut Creek, CA.
    Major Drug Firms Create Public SNP Consortium
  • 1999

    The Billion Base Pair Celebration November 23, 1999. Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences and early planner of the Genome Project; Francis Collins, Director, NHGRI; Secretary of HHS, Donna Shalala; Secretary of DOE, Bill Richardson. GP advances goal for obtaining a draft sequence of the entire human genome from 2001 to 2000.
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  • 2000

    HGP leaders and President Clinton announce the completion of a "working draft" DNA sequence of the human genome.
    Press briefing and remarks
    An Interview with Ari Patrinos, Director U.S. DOE Human Genome Program
    Part One: Reaction to President Clinton's Announcement of the Completion of a Draft Sequence of the Human Genome
    Part Two: Origins of the Human Genome Project, NIH Collaboration, and the Private Sector Role
  • 2000

    Part Three: Application of Genome Discoveries, Next Steps in the Human Genome Project, and Ethical Considerations
    Craig Venter (head of Celera Genomics), Ari Patrinos (director of DOE Human
    Genome Program and Biological and Environmental Research Program), and Francis Collins (director, NIH National Human Genome Research Institute).
    International research consortium publishes chromosome 21 genome, the smallest human chromosome and the second to be completely sequenced.
  • 2000

    DOE researchers announce completion of chromosomes 5, 16, and 19 draft sequence.
    Elbert Branscomb, Director, Joint Genome Institute
    Trevor Hawkins, Director of Sequencing, Joint Genome Institute
    International collaborators publish genome of fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
    President Clinton signs executive order prohibiting federal departments and agencies from using genetic information in hiring or promoting workers.
  • 2001

    Publication of Initial Working Draft Sequence February 12, 2001
    Special issues of Science (Feb. 16, 2001) and Nature (Feb. 15, 2001) contain the working draft of the human genome sequence. Nature papers include initial analysis of the descriptions of the sequence generated by the publicly sponsored Human Genome Project, while Science publications focus on the draft sequence reported by the private company, Celera Genomics.
  • 2003

    Human Chromosome 6 Completed, October 2003.
    Human Chromosome 7 Completed, July 2003.
    Human Chromosome Y Completed, June 2003.
    Human Genome Project Declared Complete, April 2003 [Corresponding Nature and Science]
    Human Chromosome 14 Finished - Chromosome 14 is the fourth chromosome to be completely sequenced.
  • 2008

    Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Becomes Law, May 2008.
    Landmark Paper: Mapping and sequencing of structural variation from eight human genomes, Nature, May 1, 2008