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Milestones in Biotechnology


  • 1953: James Watson and Francis Crick discover the molecular structure of DNA.

  • 1973: Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer perform the first experiments in genetic engineering. They develop a technique to clone segments of DNA molecules.

  • 1976: Genentech, the first company devoted to producing genetically engineered products, is established in San Francisco, California.

  • 1979: Genetic engineering is used to synthesize human insulin.

  • 1981: At Ohio University, scientists transfer genes from other organisms into mice.

  • 1983: Kary Mullis conceives of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method of multiplying copies of parts of DNA. This process will become one of the key tools in genetics.

  • 1984: Robert Sinsheimer proposes mapping all of the genes in a human being. This proposal leads to the development of the Human Genome Project.

  • 1989: The Human Genome Project is launched on January 3. James Watson is the first director.

  • 1990: The first gene therapy experiment is performed on a four-year-old girl with adenosine deaminase deficiency. The procedure involves inserting genetically altered cells into the veins of the patient.

  • 1995: First bacterial genome, Haemophilus influenzae, was completely sequenced by The Institute for Genomic Research.

  • 1996: Genetic maps of human and mouse completed by teams of U.S. and international scientists.

  • 1996: A yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the first eukaryotic genome to be sequenced, by more than 100 laboratories collaboratively around the world.



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