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History of Human Genetic and Reproductive Technologies

This selected list of key events in the development of human genetic technology and policy shows a dramatic acceleration in recent years.

1953 - Structure of DNA deduced (Watson, Crick, Wilkins, Franklin)

1968 - DNA code deciphered

1973 - First recombinant DNA experiments (in bacteria)

1978 - First in vitro fertilization birth

1978 - First germline-engineered mammals (mice)

1980 - US Supreme Court rules in favor of patents on genetically engineered organisms (Chakrabarty decision)

1982 - First proposals for human gene transfer experiments

1988 - Launch of Human Genome Project

1991 - First somatic gene transfer experiments begun

1992 - Development of intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in Belgium

1995 - W. French Anderson and colleagues awarded a US patent on all ex vivo gene manipulations in humans

1996 - First mammal cloned (sheep)

1997 - An anonymous private donor (later revealed to be John Sperling) commissions Texas A&M University to clone a pet dog

1998 - W. French Anderson submits first proposal involving human germline modification to the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health

1999 - Human artificial chromosomes under development

1999 - Texas A&M University clones the first bull

February 2000 - Genetic Savings and Clone is founded, initially to store samples for later cloning of pets

March 2000 - A pig is cloned

June 2000 - "Working draft" of the human genome sequence announced

October 2000 - A child conceived in part to provide therapeutic tissues for an earlier-born sibling is born; techniques of preimplantation genetic diagnosis are used to ensure that the child does not itself carry the disease

December 2000 - UK newspapers report that a patent for genetically modified sperm has been issued to fertility researchers

December 2000 - Members of the Raelian sect announce their intention to clone a human being within the coming year

January 2001 - Scientists in Oregon announce the first transgenic primate, a rhesus monkey engineered with jellyfish genes; Eduardo Kac publicizes the creation of a rabbit genetically modified to glow green under florescent light as a work of art

February 2001 - Wired magazine reports that several covert efforts to clone human beings are underway

February 2001 - Fertility researchers Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos announce their intention to clone a human being within a year

March 2001 - Researchers at the St. Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey announce their use of ooplasmic transfer techniques, arguably a form of germline genetic engineering, as an infertility treatment

July 2001 - The Jones Institute for Fertility in Virginia announces the creation of human embryos for experimental uses. Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) in Massachusetts acknowledges attempts to create clonal human embryos

October 2001 - Fertility experts announce they will begin to offer PGD for use in sex selection to clients

November 2001 - Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announces that its researchers have produced cloned human embryos; most scientists consider the experiment a failure and the announcement premature at best

February 2002 - Scientists at Texas A&M University announce that they cloned a cat in December, the first cloning of a house pet

March 2002 - China reported to be creating human clonal embryos for research

November 2002 - Gene scientist J. Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, a Nobel laureate, announce they intend to create a single-celled organism with the minimum number of genes necessary to sustain life

December 2002 - Clonaid and Raelians claim to have created human clones, but later this is shown to be a hoax

February 2003 - Scientists genetically modify human stem cells

April 2003 - Research on primates suggests that successful human cloning may be impossible

April 2003 - The first complete sequence of the genetic code of a single human, claimed to be accurate to 99.999%, is announced

May 2003 - A mule is cloned

July 2003 - A controversial fertility specialist announces that he has created mixed-sex chimeras by transplanting male cells into one-day-old female embryos

August 2003 - A horse is cloned

August 2003 - Chimeric stem cells are reported to have been derived from hybrid rabbit-human cloned embryos

August 2003 - A rat is cloned

December 2003 - Researchers grow mouse sperm cells from stem cells and fertilize an egg

January 2004 - A team of Japanese and US researchers create zebrafish from sperm that had been genetically modified and grown in culture

February 2004 - Korean researchers led by Hwang Woo Suk announce that they have succeeded in cloning human embryos and extracting stem cells from them

April 2004 - Genetics Savings and Clone offers cat cloning commercially

April 2004 - A mouse is born with two female parents and no male parent.

May 2004 - Announcement or the birth of siblings selected with the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to provide stem cells for children suffering from non-genetic diseases

August 2004 - A team of scientists at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom begins work on research cloning

May 2005 - Korean researchers led by Hwang Woo Suk announce the successful derivation of eleven patient-specific stem cell lines using cloning techniques; this is said to be accompanied by a great improvement in the efficiency in the cloning process

May 2005 - Newcastle researchers announced they have cloned human embryos, though none lasted longer than five days and no embryonic stem cells were derived from them

August 2005 - A dog is cloned

January 2006 - The journal Science retracts the claims of scientists led by Hwang Woo Suk about research cloning; Hwang is also accused of coercing subordinate women to provide their eggs for his work, of fabricating data, and of embezzling research funds provided by the South Korean government

June 2006 - A team of scientists at Harvard University begins research cloning

July 2006 - Scientists in Newcastle announce they have produced mice with artificial sperm derived from embryonic stem cells; all the mice are defective, infertile and short-lived but this is said to point the way to treatment of male infertility.

August 2006 - Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology claim to have isolated embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo; their claims are soon largely refuted

October 2006 - Genetic Savings and Clone closes, due to lack of demand for cloned pets

 Last modified November 1, 2006


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