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Timeline for biochemistry: natural products and the molecular sciences

Week 3 timeline video.

During the final week of this course we focus attention on natural products and molecular and cellular biology.

Within week 1 we heard how the era of molecular biology stems from the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, which led to huge scientific technological advances, including technologies to quickly identify genome sequences.

Some other significant biochemists and biochemistry experiments in these research areas include:

1929: Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to Eijkman and Hopkins.

1937: Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to Albert von Szent-Györgyi.

1945: Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to Fleming, Chain and Florey for their work on penicillin.

1952: Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine to Waksman for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic that was effective against tuberculosis.

1968: Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine given to Holley, Khorana and Nirenberg for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.

2001: Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine to Hartwell, Hunt and Nurse for discovering key regulators of the cell cycle.

2015: Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to the biochemists Lindahl, Modrich and Sancar for their studies of DNA repair pathways.

It should also be remembered that not all significant scientific advances lead to recognition via Nobel prizes. Many important findings have yet to be recognised in this way, as illustrated by Jeffreys’ reporting of a DNA profiling technique in 1984, which you may know of as “DNA fingerprinting”, and the cloning of the first animal – Dolly the sheep – by Campell, Wilmut and colleagues in 1996.

Significant developments in gene editing methods continue to be made in recent years. New and exciting technologies allow efficient and precise genomic modifications to be made and they are referred to as “gene editing” methods. Among the most exciting of these is a revolutionary technology referred to as CRISPR-Cas9; many scientists have been involved in biochemical developments of this technique, including teams at different research institutes led by Charpentier, Doudna and Feng.

Further information about some of these findings and biochemists is available on the Biochemical Society website.

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Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

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