The following includes select facts from life science history, both global
and Utah-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.
1850 -- The University of Deseret (University of Utah) was founded.
The University of Deseret, renamed the University of Utah
in 1892, was founded in 1850 with classes beginning at the current Fort Douglas location in 1900.
The University of Utah is ranked among the top 35 research institutions in the nation, according
to the National Science Foundation, with distinction in medicine, genetics, and engineering,
and is home to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the John A. Moran Eye Center.
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).
1888 -- The Utah Agricultural College (Utah State University) was founded.
In 1888, The Utah Agricultural College (UAC), now known as Utah State University, was
founded as the state's land-grant institution. Two years later, 14-year-old Vendla Berntson
enrolled as the College's first student. In 1929, UAC was renamed Utah State Agricultural
College, and in 1957 the college was renamed Utah State University.
In 1959, the Space Dynamics Laboratory and the Utah Water Research Laboratory were
founded. In 1975, The university initiated its Undergraduate Research Program,
making it the second oldest program in the nation, behind MIT. Today, USU is a
thriving research university with more than $200 million in external annual funding, and
is a source of numerous Utah life science companies.
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.
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.
The Spanish Flu reached Salt Lake City in October 1918 when several dozen new
cases and a handful of deaths were reported, similar to other communities across Utah.
On Oct. 9 the State health commissioner and the Utah board of health ordered closed all churches
and Sunday schools, public schools and universities, theaters, movie houses, public meetings,
pool halls, dance halls and private dances, and prohibited public gatherings of all kinds,
effective October 10. On Oct. 28, 147 cases and 11 deaths were reported. It was the single highest case tally to date.
By the end of its epidemic, Salt Lake City experienced a total of 10,268 reported cases,
nearly nine percent of its population. Of those who fell ill, 576 residents died as a
result of influenza or pneumonia, a case fatality ratio of 5.6 percent.
1930 -- The name of the Hygienic Laboratory was changed to the National Institute of Health.
In 1930, the Ransdell Act changed the name of the Hygienic Laboratory to the National Institute
of Health (NIH) and authorized the establishment of fellowships for research into basic biological and medical
problems. The roots of this act extended to 1918, when chemists who had worked with the Chemical Warfare
Service in World War I sought to establish an institute in the private sector to apply fundamental knowledge
in chemistry to problems of medicine.
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.
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.
Transistors have become an invisible technology that is
part of almost every electronic device. Every major information age innovation was made
possible by the transistor and its application can be found all around us.
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.
Deseret Pharmaceutical Co., founded in 1956 by Dale Ballard, James L. Sorenson and
Victor Cartwright, created a disposable plastic catheter, and becames Utah's first
manufacturer of disposable medical devices. In 1977, Ballard sold Deseret Pharmaceutical
for $138 million to Warner Lambert, which was subsequently acquired by
by Becton, Dickinson and Company.
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)
1967 -- Willem J. Kolff, the "father of artificial organs"
joined the University of Utah.
Willem J. Kolff joined the University of Utah as head of the newly formed
Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1967.
Dr. Kolff developed the first artificial kidney in 1942, the first membrane oxygenator for
clinical use, and headed a team which invented and tested an artificial heart.
Dr. Kolff was also involved in intra-aortic balloon pumping, organ preservation for transplantation,
and development of biomaterials. In 1991, Life magazine named him one of the 20th
century's most influential Americans. (Photo: Courtesy of the University of Utah).
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.
1973 -- Stephen C. Jacobsen at University of Utah, developed the Utah Artificial Arm.
Stephen C. Jacobsen
at University of Utah, developed the Utah Artificial Arm in 1973, the world´s first functional and
most life-like prosthetic limb.
Dr. Jacobsen is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical
Engineering at the University of Utah, and the Founder of Sarcos Research Corp.,
as well as other companies. Jacobsen has had a hand in developing a multitude of robotic
devices including, in addition to the Utah Arm, an exoskeleton that could be worn by
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.
1976 -- Orrin Grant Hatch elected to U.S. Senate.
elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, is a ranking Republican on the Senate
Committee on Finance, where the Senator is a leading advocate for policies to encourage savings
and investment, such as the Capital Formation Act of 1997.
Senator Hatch has championed a variety of legislative causes supporting the life science
industry in Utah including the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, FDA reform, the
Orphan Drug Act, the Ryan White AIDS Care legislation, and much more. Prior to his election to
the Senate, Senator Hatch had held no public office. (Photo: Orrin Grant Hatch courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office)
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)
1982 -- Surgeons at the University of Utah performed the first successful artificial heart transplant in a human.
In 1982, a team led by William DeVries,
at the University of Utah, successfully implanted the Jarvik-7 (named for its designer
Robert K. Jarvik) into Seattle dentist Barney Clark. It was reported that Dr. Clark's
damaged heart tore like tissue paper during the surgery due to years of treatment with steroids.
The aluminum and polyurethane device was connected to a 400-pound air compressor
that accompanied Clark for the rest of his life.
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.
1990 -- Utah Human Genome Center (Utah Genome Depot) established at the University of Utah.
Utah Human Genome Center (Utah Genome Depot)
sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is an
Environmental Genome Project resource that integrates gene, sequence and polymorphism data
into individually annotated gene models.
1991 -- Myriad Genetics founded.
Myriad Genetics, located in Salt Lake City,
was founded in 1991 by Mark Skolnick Co-discoverer of the BRCA1 gene, and Dr. Walter Gilbert who was awarded
the 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.
Today, Myriad markets cancer predictive medicine products and developes therapeutics including drug
candidates in the areas of Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
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
1999 -- Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded.
The Huntsman Cancer Institute, at the University
of Utah, is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center created with a
$151 million donation from the Jon M. Huntsman family to create a world-class
cancer center. Jon M. Huntsman, is Chairman and CEO, Huntsman Corporation located in Salt Lake City.
Huntsman worked in the Nixon administration as a White House staff secretary and special
assistant. He was later involved in the egg distribution business where he developed the
polystyrene egg carton. This led to formation of Huntsman Container Corporation, now part
of the diversified and Huntsman Corporation.
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.
2007 -- Mario R. Capecchi was awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine.