The following includes select facts from life science history, both global
and Montana-state specific, that help explain the origins of the state's life science
industry. Please note that these facts are part of a much larger state-specific
history database that will be launched in the near future. In the meantime, we encourage you
to learn about the scientists behind the discoveries, the entrepreneurs, companies,
philanthropists, political leaders, and significant events, institutions
and companies that are the foundation of the life science industry in the state
If you are aware of a notable event, person, organization/company or accomplishment that we should include,
please e-mail us at: Suggestions@InfoResource.org
1848 -- American Association for the Advancement of Science was founded.
American Association for the Advancement of Science, founded in 1848,
marked the emergence of a national scientific community in the United States, and was the first organization
established to promote the development of science and engineering at the national level and to represent the interests of
all its disciplines. Today, the AAAS serves nearly 300 affiliated societies and academies of science and publishes the
peer-reviewed general science journal Science.
1859 -- Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species."
In 1859, British naturalist Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of
Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"
in which he postulated his theory of evolution that explained how the diverse of
species on Earth evolved from a simple, singled-celled ancestor.
Darwin's theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly
and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism's ability
to adapt to its environment. Darwin's theory of evolution remains the foundation of modern
1865 -- Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, presented his laws of heredity.
Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian considered the father of modern genetics,
conducted crossbreeding experiments with pea plants between 1856 and 1863. Through this work,
he established many of the rules of heredity.
"In 1859 I obtained a very fertile descendant with large, tasty seeds from a first generation
hybrid. Since in the following year, its progeny retained the desirable characteristics
and were uniform, the variety was cultivated in our vegetable garden, and many plants were
raised every year up to 1865. (Gregor Mendel to Carl Nägeli, April 1867).
1887 -- Marine Hospital Service Hygienic Laboratory (National Institutes of Health) was founded.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) traces its roots to 1887,
when a one-room laboratory was created within the Marine Hospital Service (MHS), predecessor agency to the
U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). The MHS was established in 1798 to provide for the medical care of
merchant seamen -- charged by Congress with examining passengers on arriving ships for clinical signs of
infectious diseases, such as cholera and yellow fever, to prevent epidemics.
During the 1870s and 1880s, scientists in Europe presented compelling evidence that microscopic organisms
were the causes of several infectious diseases, and MHS officials closely followed these developments.
In 1887, Joseph Kinyoun, a MHS physician trained in the new bacteriological
methods, set up a one-room laboratory in the Marine Hospital at Stapleton, Staten Island,
New York. Kinyoun called this facility a "laboratory of hygiene" in imitation of German facilities, and within
a few months, he identified the cholera bacillus and used his Zeiss microscope to
demonstrate it to his colleagues as confirmation of their clinical diagnoses
(Photo: courtesy of the NIH Almanac).
1893 -- The Agricultural College of the State of Montana founded.
On February 16, 1893, the Agricultural College of the State of Montana was founded
as the state's land-grant college. In the 1920's, the institution's was known as
Montana State College and remained so until July 1, 1965, when, in recognition of the advances
in the College's commitment to scientific and humanistic research, the state Legislature
changed the college's name to Montana State University (MSU).
Today, MSU has a national and international reputation for its excellence in undergraduate
and graduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, agriculture, architecture, education,
engineering, health and human development, and nursing. Students receive a high-quality,
well-rounded education and training for professional careers in the University’s
three colleges – arts and sciences, forestry and conservation, and technology – and six
schools – journalism, law, business, education, pharmacy and the fine arts.
1893 -- University of Montana founded.
The University of Montana (UM), located in Missoula,
was founded in 1893. Today, UM is a magnet not only for top-notch teachers and researchers,
but also for students from across the country and around the globe.
1896 -- Rocky Mountain spotted fever first recognized.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever was first recognized in 1896 in the Snake River Valley of Idaho
and was originally called "black measles" because of the characteristic rash. It was a dreaded
and frequently fatal disease that affected hundreds of people in this area. By the early 1900s,
the geographic distribution of the disease encompassed parts of the U.S. from Washington and
Montana to California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
In response to this severe problem, the Rocky Mountain Laboratory was established in
Hamilton, Montana. Beginning in the 1930s, it became evident that this disease occurred in
many areas of the United States and it is now recognized that this disease is broadly
distributed throughout the continental U,S., as well as southern Canada, Central America,
Mexico, and parts of South America. Between 1981 and 1996, this disease was reported from
every U.S. state except Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and Alaska.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever remains a serious and potentially life-threatening infectious
disease today. Despite the availability of effective treatment and advances in medical care,
approximately 3%-5% of individuals who become ill with Rocky Mountain spotted fever still die
from the infection. However, effective antibiotic therapy has dramatically reduced the number
of deaths caused by Rocky Mountain spotted fever; before the discovery of tetracycline and
chloramphenicol in the late 1940s, as many as 30% of persons infected with R. rickettsii died.
1899 -- Flathead Lake Biological Station established.
Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) established near Bigfork in 1899
by Dr. Morton J. Elrod, Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Montana, is one of the oldest active biological field
research stations in the United States. The Station was moved to Yellow Bay in 1908.
Since its founding, students from all over the world have visited the station to learn about biology. By 1977,
year-round research was being conducted at the Morton J. Elrod Laboratory, and in 1981 with the construction of the state-of-the-art Schoonover
Freshwater Research Laboratory, the Flathead Lake Biological Station became one of the finest freshwater research facilities in the country.
Today, scientists at FLBS strive for discoveries that advance understanding of natural and cultural
inter-relationships in an ecosystem context with research focused on freshwater: rain, snow, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers,
floodplains, wetlands, groundwaters and watersheds. Much of FLBS research is done locally in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.
Four laboratory buildings house the inside biology, limnology, aquatic ecology, and terrestrial ecology labs and specialized research
1902 -- The Biologics Control Act was established.
The Biologics Control Act, established in 1902, had major consequences for the Hygienic Laboratory. It charged
the laboratory with regulating the production of vaccines and antitoxins, making it a regulatory agency
four years before passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. The danger posed by biological products that had
emerged from bacteriologic discoveries resulted from their production in animals and their administration by
injection. In 1901, thirteen children in St. Louis died after receiving diphtheria antitoxin contaminated
with tetanus spores. This tragedy spurred Congress to pass the Biologics Control Act, and between 1903-1907
standards were established and licenses issued to pharmaceutical firms for making smallpox and rabies vaccines,
diphtheria and tetanus antitoxins, and various other antibacterial antisera. (In 1972, responsibility
for regulation of biologics was transferred to the Food and Drug Administration).
The Marine Hospital Service (MHS), established in 1798, was reorganized in 1912
and renamed the Public Health Service (PHS). The PHS was authorized to conduct research into
noncontagious diseases and into the pollution of streams and lakes in the U.S. During
World War I, the PHS attended primarily to sanitation of areas around military bases in the
U.S., and when the 1918 influenza pandemic struck Washington, physicians from the
laboratory were pressed into service treating patients in the District of Columbia because
so many local doctors had fallen ill.
1911 -- The Billings Clinic founded.
The Billings Clinic evolved from the general
practice of Dr. Arthur J. Movius who founded his Billings practice in 1911. Movius was trained with a year's
internship at a Minneapolis, Minnesota, hospital and had experience in the primitive surgery of the day.
The practice grew and in 1939, the group devised a plan to bring in physicians as partners to the practice,
and the name was changed to The Billings Clinic. Growth of the clinic after World War II required expanded
facilities. In 1950 building construction began across the street from Billings Deaconess Hospital.
The Billings Clinic has grown from two physicians into the largest multi-specialty group practice in the region.
Its 250+ physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners offer 35 specialties ranging from allergy to urology.
There are clinics in three locations in Billings and throughout the region in Colstrip, Columbus, Miles City and
Red Lodge, Montana and Cody, Wyoming.
In 1993, the Billings Clinic and Deaconess Medical Center merged to become an integrated health care organization
named Deaconess Billings Clinic. In 2005, Deaconess Billings Clinic changed its name to Billings Clinic. Today,
Billings Clinic, provides inpatient and outpatient care serving people in a four-state region.
1918 -- Spanish Influenza Pandemic.
It is estimated that between 25 and 40 million people died
from the the influenza outbreak that began in 1918, swept across America in a week and
around the world in three months. In all, between 500,000 and 700,000 Americans
--civilians and soldiers-- died from the influenza, more than were lost in World War I,
II, and the Korean and Viet Nam wars combined. In Arkansas, the flu killed about 7,000
people, several times more than the state lost during World War I.
Montana was slow to report the presence of influenza. On October 4, 1918, state
officials sent their first official report to the Public Health Service.
By late October, state officials finally sent a follow-up report to the PHS.
Admitting that their records “are…very incomplete,” officials said that
there were over 3,500 cases of influenza among the state’s white population.
The disease tapered off slightly after November but influenza continued to
be pervasive throughout the state during much of the winter and spring of 1919.
1921 -- Rocky Mountain Laboratory established in Hamilton.
The founding of the Rocky Mountain Laboratory (RML)
can be traced back to westward migration when early settlers in the Montana foothills of
the Bitteroot Range of the Rocky Mountains were plagued with a disease known as
"black measles," or "spotted fever," now known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
In 1902, the U.S. Public Health Service sent out a research team to find the cause.
Tents, cabins, and an old schoolhouse were used for housing the early Rocky Mountain
Laboratory. In 1906, Dr. Howard Ricketts, a young pathologist from the University of Chicago,
showed that the disease was transmitted by the bite of the Rocky Mountain wood
tick (Dermacentor andersoni). Returning each summer to continue his work, by 1909, he had isolated
the bacterial organism that was responsible for spotted fever, and that organism was
later named Rickettsia rickettsii in his honor.
Unfortunately, a state budget shortage made it questionable whether Montana could fund Ricketts’ continuing
research during the summer of 1910. Because of the uncertainty, he accepted funding to work on a typhus
outbreak in Mexico City . Shortly before his work there was concluded, Ricketts himself contracted
typhus and died soon after.
In the years that followed, a number of state and federally funded researchers continued their investigations
of spotted fever. Within a few years Drs. Roscoe Spencer and Ralph Parker produced the first effective vaccine
against the disease by emulsifying infected tick tissue in which the rickettsiae had been inactivated.
The early facilities in which spotted fever research were rough and limited.
Ricketts worked in tents set up in the yard of the Northern Pacific Hospital north of the valley in Missoula while
others worked out of cabins and farmhouses, and Dr. Parker for a time conducted his studies in a woodshed.
Finally, in 1921, Parker found an abandoned schoolhouse on the west side of the valley and arranged to have it
rented by the U.S. Public Health Service. The "Schoolhouse Lab," as it was known, was the facility where
Dr. Spencer and Parker ground up tick tissue to produce their vaccine.
In 1926, the Board of Entomology asked the state legislature to provide enough money to build a modern
entomological laboratory. In the spring of 1927, the legislature appropriated $60,000 for the new building
and a site in the town of Hamilton was chosen. The building, completed in early 1928, provided
space for the state administered control programs and rented space to the Public Health Service for Dr. Parker
and his colleagues to continue research and vaccine production. By 1930, the laboratory employed four
professionals and 22 support staff. That same year Parker was appointed scientific director,
a role he continued in for the next 19 years. In February of 1932, the federal government purchased the
facility from the state of Montana for $68,757 and several of the Board of Entomology employees were
transferred to the Public Health Service.
In 1937, RML became part of the National Institute of Health. During World War II, the laboratory joined in the
war effort by becoming a "national vaccine factory" producing vaccines to protect soldiers against spotted fever,
typhus, and yellow fever. After the war, work at the lab returned to its primary mission of basic scientific
research of infectious diseases. In 1948, the National Institute of Health was reorganized into the National
Institutes of Health, and RML became part of National Microbiological Institute. In 1955, Congress changed the
name of the Microbiological Institute to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Today, RML is a state-of-the-art research facility occupied by world-class scientists
with a mission to study infectious microbes that cause disease in humans and animals.
Because of its long history and expertise in infectious disease research, RML is
poised to play a leading role in the nation’s fight against bioterrorism and emerging
infections. NIAID now plans to construct a 100,000-square-foot Integrated Research
Facility housing laboratories with BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratory suites similar to those
already on the RML campus, and a suite of laboratories designed to operate at
Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4). Even before the current emphasis on biodefense, RML
scientists were studying organisms that cause a variety of infectious diseases,
including plague, Lyme disease, rabies, HIV, tuberculosis, transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies and Q fever.
1933 -- Thomas Hunt Morgan was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his
chromosome theory of heredity.
Thomas Hunt Morgan pioneered the new science of genetics through experimental
research with the fruit fly (Drosophila), laying the foundations for the future of biology. On
the basis of fly-breeding experiments he demonstrated that genes are linked in a series on
chromosomes and that they determine indentifiable, hereditary traits.
1937 -- The National Cancer Institute was created.
In 1937, the National
Cancer Institute (NCI) was created with sponsorship from every Senator in Congress, and was authorized
to award grants to nonfederal scientists for research on cancer and to fund fellowships at NCI for young
Today, the NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the federal government's
principal agency for cancer research and training.
1944 -- Public Health Service Act was established.
The 1944 Public Health Service Act defined the shape of medical research in the post-war world.
The entire NIH budget expanded from $8 million in 1947 to more than $1 billion in
1966, now fondly remembered as "the golden years" of NIH expansion. The 1944 PHS Act
authorized NIH to conduct clinical research, and after the war Congress provided funding to
build a research hospital, now called the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center on the
NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The Center which opened in 1953 with 540 beds
was designed to bring research laboratories into close proximity with hospital wards in
order to promote productive collaboration between laboratory scientists and clinicians.
The NIH today, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency
for conducting and supporting medical research and is composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, providing
leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world.
1943-1977 -- Mike Mansfield represents Montana in U.S. Congress.
served Montana as Representative and Senator in the U.S. Congress for thiry-four years, and his actions
had an enduring impact in the Big Sky state. (Photo: Mike Mansfield courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office)
Mansfield served as a Representative from 1943-1952, and U.S. Senator from 1952-1977 serving as chairman, Special
Committee on Campaign Expenditures, Democratic whip (1957-1961), majority leader (1961-1977), chairman, Committee on
Rules and Administration, Select Committee on Secret and Confidential Documents, and Special Committee on Secret and
Confidential Documents. Manfield also server as Ambassador to Japan from 1977-1988; and was awarded the Presidential
Medal of Freedom in 1989. Examples of Mansfield's impact in Montana includes:
The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana, created in 1983 as an academic unit of the
university, the Center honors the lives and legacy of Senator Mike Mansfield and his wife, Maureen Hayes Mansfield,
to whom the Senator gave credit for many of his accomplishments; The Mansfield Library at the University of Montana-Missoula that
furthers education and "resources for the mind;" and
The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
was created in 1983 to advance Maureen and Mike Mansfield's life-long efforts to promote understanding and cooperation
among nations and peoples of Asia and the United States
1947 -- Transistor was invented at AT&T's Bell Laboratories.
The transistor, the invention that marked the dawn of the
information age, was invented by John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at AT&T's Bell Laboratories. Bardeen,
Shockley and Brattain were awarded the 1956
Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of the transistor effect.
1953 -- Double helix structure of DNA was revealed.
The double helix structure of DNA, the hereditary molecule is revealed by
two scientists, James D. Watson and Francis Crick. This is one of the key
discoveries of the century. Watson and Crick shared the 1962
Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Maurice Wilkins for their discoveries
concerning the molecular structure of nuclear acids and its significance for information
transfer in living material.
1954 -- McLaughlin Research Institute established.
McLaughlin Research Institute is an
independent, non-profit research organization in Great Falls, Montana near the Rocky Mountain
Front. Institute research focuses on understanding the genetic control of normal development
and disease susceptibility using the mouse as a model system.
The Institute began in 1954 with the arrival of Dr. Ernst Eichwald, recruited as a
pathologist by the Montana Deaconess Hospital. Eichwald's work in the Laboratory for
Experimental Medicine focused on tissue transplantation and
transplant rejection. Early work at the Institute by Eichwald and later by Dr. Jack
Stimpfling played an important role in the eventual development of successful protocols
for organ transplantation in humans. (Photo: Dr. Ernst Eichwald & Dr. Jack Stimpfling in
front of one of two abandoned grocery stores that served as temporary homes for the
Laboratory for Experimental Medicine, predecessor to the McLaughlin Research Institute.
Courtesy: McLaughlin Research Institute)
In 1964, Eichwald recruited Jack H. Stimpfling from the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor,
Maine. In 1966, space contstraints at Deaconess Hospital forced relocation into two
abandoned mom and pop grocery stores, The shelves served as racks for mouse cages and the
checkout counters became lab benches. In 1967, with support from local contractor John L.
McLaughlin, the McLaughlin Research Institute opened its doors. (Photo: Dr. Jack Stimpfling,
Courtesy: McLaughlin Research Institute)
Eichwald returned to the University of Utah 1968 where he became Chairman of the
Department of Pathology. After Eichwald's departure, Stimpfling was the sole scientist
at the Institute making major contributions in immunology and immunogenetics. Stimpfling
devoted his career to the identification and characterization of H2 recombinants,
developing a panel of congenic strains with crossovers within the complex that were used by
scientists worldwide during the golden age of immunobiology.
The Institute is supported by a number of scientists including Irv Weissman, David
Baltimore and Montana native Leroy Hood, the later two current members of McLaughlin's
Scientific Advisory Committee. In 1988, Stimpfling's retirement necessitated a major reorginization
that through the efforts of Institute and Columbus Hospital staff, community leaders, the
state legislature, and Montana's congressional delegation, a combination of state and federal
funding was obtained in 1991 for construction of a new research laboratory. (Photo: Dr. Leroy
Hood, courtesy Institute for Systems Biology)
Now retired, Eichwald continues daily work in his lab and is a valued friend and advisor
to the McLaughlin Research Institute, as well as to his colleagues in Utah.
Today, MRI's research is built on its historical strength in mammalian genetics, and its
transgenic mouse facility with both pronuclear and blastocyst microinjection capabilities.
Genes have been ablated by Institute scientists using homologous recombination and numerous
conventional transgenic lines have been produced.
1958 -- Integrated circuit was invented.
Jack Kilby, an engineer at
Texas Instruments shows only a transistor and other components on a slice of
germanium. This invention (7/16-by-1/16-inches in size), called an integrated
circuit, revolutionized the electronics industry. Kilby was awarded
the 2000 Nobel Prize in
Physics for his invention of the integrated circuit.
(Photo: Jack Kilby courtesy of Texas Instruments)
Jack Kilby went on to pioneer military, industrial, and commercial applications of
microchip technology. He headed teams that built both the first military system and the
first computer incorporating integrated circuits. He later co-invented both the hand-held
calculator and the thermal printer that was used in portable data terminals.
Mr. Kilby officially retired from TI in 1983, but he maintained a significant involvement
with the company throughout his life.
1961 -- President John F. Kennedy expanded the U.S. Space Program
Listen to President John F. Kennedy's speech in
his historic message to a joint session of the Congress, on May 25, 1961 declared,
"...I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade
is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." This goal was
achieved when astronaut Neil A. Armstrong became the first human to set foot upon the
Moon at 10:56 p.m. EDT, July 20, 1969. Shown in the background are, (left) Vice
President Lyndon Johnson, and (right) Speaker of the House Sam T. Rayburn. The expansion of
the U.S. Space Program resulted in the development of a wide range of technology with
enormous benefit to human and animal kind.
(Photo: courtesy National Aeronautics & Space Administration)
1969 -- Man walked on the moon.
In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, American astronauts, made
history by becoming the first men to walk on the moon.
Listen to Neil Armstrong's first words as he steps onto the lunar
surface (66 kb .wav file). Photo: Courtesy of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration)
An important benefit of the Apollo Lunar Program and
other NASA programs is the ever-growing pipeline of technology that improves human and
veterinary healthcare diagnostics and therapeutics.
1969 -- Victor McKusick published "Mendelian Inheritance in Man".
Victor McKusick, widely acknowledged as the father of medical genetics, spent his career studying
the genetic basis of diseases and disorders with the belief that such an understanding could lead
to new methods of diagnosis and treatment. He studied, identified, and mapped genes responsible for
inherited conditions such as Marfan syndrome and dwarfism (specifically in Amish communities).
In 1969, he proposed the idea of mapping the human genome, over 30 years before the Human
Genome Project was established.
McKusick, a graduate of Johns Hopkins (M.D. 1946), spent his entire career there and founded
the Division of Medical Genetics in 1957, the first research center and clinic of its kind. In
1969 he published the 1st edition of his
book "Mendelian Inheritance of Man",
one of the most comprehensive collections of inherited disease genes. In 2002, McKusick received the
highest scientific honor in the U.S., the National Medal of Science.
1971 -- NASDAQ Stock Market was founded.
NASDAQ Stock Market was founded as the world's first electronic stock market by the
National Association of Securities Dealers. The NASDAQ system, created by the Bunker Ramos
Corp. allowed the financial community, for the first time, to determine which market
offered the best price on a given security.
1971 -- President Nixon declared war on cancer creating the Cancer Centers Program of the National Cancer Institute.
On Dec. 23, 1971, the National Cancer Act of 1971, enacted by President Richard Nixon as part of the
nation’s war on cancer, established the Cancer Centers Program of the National Cancer Institute.
The National Cancer Act, "The War on Cancer," gave the NCI unique autonomy at NIH with special budgetary authority.
The annual budget of NCI, called the bypass budget, be submitted directly to the president, bypassing traditional
approval by the NIH or the Department of HHS required of other NIH institutes.
1973 -- Recombinant DNA was perfected.
The modern era of biotechnology begins when Stanley Cohen of Stanford University and Herbert Boyer of the University of
California at San Francisco successfully recombined ends of bacterial DNA after splicing a toad gene in between. They
called their accomplishment recombinant DNA, but the media preferred the term genetic engineering.
(Photo: Courtesy Stanley Cohen)
Boyer and Cohen's achievement was an advancement upon the techniques developed by Paul Berg, in 1972,
for inserting viral DNA into bacterial DNA. Cohen's research at Stanford was with plasmids—the nonchromosomal, circular
units of DNA found in, and exchanged by, bacteria, while Boyer's was restriction enzymes produced by bacteria to counter
invasion by bacteriophages.
1974 -- Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted.
John N. Erlenborn, the ranking Republican on the House Committee, was responsible for
bringing the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to a floor vote, and
is one of the ERISA’s "Founding Fathers." Together with Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY), Senator
Pete Williams (D-NJ) and Congressman John Dent (D-PA), Erlenborn crafted provisions and
participated in negotiations that were instrumental to the enactment of ERISA which was - and
remains - the single most important legislation governing employee benefit plans in the United
States creating a growing source of new capital.
(Photos: Jacob Javits and Pete Williams courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office).
1975 -- Monoclonal antibodies were produced.
In 1975, Georges Köhler and César Milstein, showed how monoclonal antibodies can be generated by
isolating individual fused myeloma cells.
Genentech was founded by venture
capitalist Robert Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert Boyer. In the early 1970s, Boyer
and geneticist Stanley Cohen at Stanford University pioneered recombinant DNA technology.
Within a few short years Swanson and Boyer invented a new industry - biotechnology.
In 1980, Genentech issued its Initial Public Offering (IPO) and raised $35 million
with an offering that jumped from $35 a share to a high of $88 after less than an
hour on the market. This event was one of the largest stock run-ups ever, and that
event set the stage for future biotechnolgy industry offerings.
1977 -- First human gene was cloned.
Walter Gilbert induced bacteria to synthesize insulin and interferon, and Frederick Sanger
published the complete sequence of phage FX174. The 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry was
awarded jointly to Frederick Sanger and Walter Gilbert for "for their contributions concerning
the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids, and to Paul Berg for his fundamental
studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA.
1980 -- U.S. Supreme Court ruled man-made organism patentable.
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds five-to-four the patentability of
genetically altered organisms, opening the door to greater patent protection for any
modified life forms.
In 1972, Mohan Chakrabarty, a microbiologist, filed a patent
application, assigned to the General Electric Co. for a human-made genetically engineered
bacterium capable of breaking down multiple components of crude oil. Because of this
property, which is possessed by no naturally occurring bacteria, Chakrabarty's invention
was believed to have significant value for the treatment of oil spills. The application
asserted 36 claims related to Chakrabarty's invention of "a bacterium from the genus
Pseudomonas containing therein at least two stable energy-generating plasmids, each of
said plasmids providing a separate hydrocarbon degradative pathway.
Opinions: Chief Justice Warren Burger delivered the opinion
of the Court, in which justices Potter Stewart, Harry Blackmun, William Rehnquist, and
John Paul Stevens joined. William Brennan filed a dissenting opinion, in which Byron
White, Thurgood Marshall, and Lewis Powell joined.
1980 -- Bayh-Dole Act provided for university technology transfer.
H.R.6933, Public Law: 96-517, December 12, 1980. A bill to amend title
35 of the United States Code. This Act known as the Bayh-Dole Act provided for the legal transfer of research and
technology originating from U.S. universities and federal laboratories to private
companies for commercialization. Technology transfer offices are now common in
universities and federal laboratories and are the technology foundation for numerous
biotechnology and medical device companies. (Photos: Birch Bayh and
Robert Dole courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office)
1983 -- Orphan Drug Act was created.
The Orphan Drug Act
encouraged the research and development of drugs for rare or "orphan" diseases defined as a disease or condition that
affects fewer than 200,000 Americans.
The Orphan Drug Act provided for financial incentives to help companies recover the cost of developing much needed
therapies for small patient populations. The FDA estimates that more than 11 million patients in the U.S. and millions
more around the world, have benefited from this legislation.
1984 -- Alec Jeffreys and technician Vicky Wilson discovered minisatellites leading to the development of genetic fingerprinting.
In 1984, geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys, and technician Vicky Wilson at the University of
Leicester in England discovered minisatellites leading to the development of genetic fingerprinting.
The new technology was first used in 1985 to resolve a disputed immigration case
that confirmed the identity of a British boy whose family was from Ghana.
In 1988, Colin Pitchfork was convicted of murdering two girls in 1983 and 1986 in
Narborough, Leicestershire, England after his DNA samples matched semen samples
taken from the two dead girls. Jeffreys' work in this case convicted the
killer, but also exonerated Richard Buckland, a suspect who otherwise might
have spent his life in prison. In 1994, Jeffreys' was knighted by Queen
Elizabeth II for his services to genetics.
1990 -- Human Genome Project was established.
The U.S. Human Genome
Project was established -- a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S.
Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The main goals of the
Human Genome Project were to provide a complete and accurate sequence of the 3 billion
DNA base pairs that make up the human genome and to find all of the estimated 20,000 to
25,000 human genes. The project, originally planned to last 15 years, was expected
to be completed by 2003 due to rapid technological advances.
1993 -- Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) was founded.
Organization is the world's largest organization to serve and represent the
biotechnology industry. BIO's leadership and service-oriented guidance have helped advance
the industry and bring the benefits of biotechnology to people everywhere.
1993 -- Kary B. Mullis was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
PCR allows scientists to quickly replicate small strands of DNA, greatly simplifying
the sequencing and cloning of genes. First presented in 1985, PCR has become one of
the most widespread methods of analyzing DNA. Notably, PCR requires the heat-stable enzyme
Taq (Thermus Aquaticus) which originated from hot springs located in Yellowstone
2001 -- Human Genome Project draft sequence was published.
The February 16 issue of Science and February
15 issue of Nature contained the working draft of the human genome
sequence (U.S. Human Genome
Project). Nature papers included initial analysis of the descriptions of the sequence
generated by the publicly sponsored Human Genome Project, while Science publications focused
on the draft sequence reported by the private company, Celera Genomics.
2004 -- Montana Bioscience Alliance founded.
Montana Bioscience Alliance (MBA)
is a non-profit association that serves as a hub for Montana’s biotechnology companies, entrepreneurs, laboratories,
hospitals, clinics and universities to commercialize, grow and sustain globally competitive bioscience companies --
ultimately to create high-quality jobs and economic opportunity in Montana.
2007 -- The National Institutes of Health established the Human Microbiome Project.
On Dec. 19, 2007, the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), a $150 million initiative, was established by the National
Institutes of Health with the mission of generating resources that would enable the comprehensive characterization of
the human microbiome and analysis of its role in human health and disease.
The HMP is the collection of all
the microorganisms living in association with the human body, including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses.
Bacteria in an average human body number ten times more than human cells, for a total of about 1000 more genes
than are present in the human genome.
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