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History of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: Biotechnology

A guide to resources on the history of molecular biology and biotechnology, including the history of the Human Genome Project (HGP). Covers archives and special collections; and oral history.

BioBytes: History of Biotechnology


History of Biotechnology

“Biotechnology” refers to the use of living organisms or their products to modify human health or the environment in which we live. Thus, in the sense that planting crops, breeding animals, fermenting foods and beverages, and baking bread fit this definition, biotechnology has been around since prehistoric times. However, in the context of today’s research and industry, biotechnology as we know it emerged in the 1970s as a result of discoveries and advances in molecular biology and recombinant DNA techniques.


Biotechnology at CSHL

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has always been at the forefront of molecular biology, and after the rise of the modern biotechnology industry in the 1970s, it became dedicated to applying basic science research to the study and treatment of human disease. Over the past thirty years, CSHL has collaborated with dozens of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including the biggest names in the business, on issues ranging from monoclonal antibodies and cancer research to plant genetics and neuroscience. In addition to this cooperative research, CSHL has been involved in the start-up of nearly 20 biotech companies, most of them stemming from the work of its scientists.

Second Century: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Biotechnology Revolution - Wargas and Pollock