Biotechnology, How Did it all Start?


Gregor Mendel is widely known as the “father of genetics”. Born in 1822, he was a nineteenth-century Catholic monk from Brno, a city in what is now the Czech Republic. Here is where modern genetic research was born.

During his days, Mendel was encouraged by colleagues to improve the abbey’s gardens which provided food for the poor as well as their own kitchens. Noticing variations in the plants, he launched a careful study to find an explanation.

Between 1856 and 1863, Mendel began the meticulous process of observing and recording how 29,000 pea plants changed over time based on their ancestry. He published the results of his study in an academic paper that was promptly ignored by scientists of the day.

He continued his genetic research with honey bees but apparently found them less cooperative than the pea. He died in 1884 leaving behind volumes of research.

Decades later, scientists rediscovered Mendel’s work and replicated his results. During the Twentieth-century, genetic research ultimately led to the discovery of DNA. It has since been a short step to discovering and manipulating the structure of life.

Genetic testing can now help identify people who are vulnerable to certain diseases and can give each of us our own ancestral blueprint so they can take specific precautions and manage our immune systems.

The work of Gregor Mendel has truly revolutionize our advancements in the biomedical sciences over the last couple of decades. May the next steps we take along this path be guided by our respect for mother nature as the "founding mother" to all life on planet earth.

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