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IMM Timeline


A brief timeline of genetics and the IMM

Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species.
1866 Gregor Mendel publishes results of his investigations of the inheritance of “factors” in pea plants.
1902   Walter Sutton points out the interrelationships between cytology and Mendelism, closing the gap between cell morphology and heredity.
1910   Thomas Hunt Morgan proposes a theory of sex-linked inheritance for the first mutation discovered in the fruit fly, Drosophila, white eye.  This is followed by the gene theory, including the principle of linkage.
1945 Max Delbruck organizes a phage course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory which is taught for 26 consecutive years. This course becomes the training ground of the first two generations of molecular biologists.
James Watson and Francis Crick discover the double helical structure of DNA.
Paul Berg and co-workers create the first recombinant DNA molecule.
1977 Allan Maxam and Walter Gilbert at Harvard University and Frederick Sanger at the U.K. Medical Research Council (MRC) independently develop methods for sequencing DNA.
Robert Sinsheimer hosts a meeting at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to discuss the feasibility of sequencing the human genome.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) establishes the Office of Human Genome Research.
1989 James T. Willerson, M.D. joins The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and announces his vision to develop an Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. Fundraising begins.
M. David Low, M.D.,Ph.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston, formally announces a plan to establish an institute that specifically will target the prediction and prevention of human diseases – The Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases. He announces the first receipt of gifts totaling $7.2 million to enhance molecular research. A $40 million fundraising campaign also is announced that will later be expanded to the $200 million New Frontiers Campaign to house and support the new institute.
1995 Hans Müller-Eberhard, M.D., Ph.D, well-known for his pioneering work elucidating the complement system, is recruited by Willerson as the first scientific director of the new IMM. His wife, Irma Gigli, M.D., is simultaneously recruited to lead the IMM’s Center for Immunology and Autoimmune Diseases.
(March 1)
Gigli, temporarily officed in the UT Dental Branch Building, becomes the IMM’s first faculty member.  Plans to house the IMM in the renovated UT Speech and Hearing Building are revised as  pace is leased and readied in the Albert Alkek Building of the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology.
Müller-Eberhard, M.D., Ph.D., arrives in Houston. Prior to his appointment he was director of the Bernhard Hocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany.  He begins develop research programs in immunology, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurobiology, and cancer research at the genetic level. Recruitment of scientists in these specialties begins.
IMM occupies first space in the Albert Alkek Building of the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology.
(March 3)
Müller -Eberhard dies at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
1998 Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., is named director of the IMM by Low, then-president of the UT Health Science Center. Murad continues to direct the institute’s Research Center for Cellular Signalling.  Gigli is named associate director of the IMM in addition to her directorship of the Research Center for Immunology and Autoimmune Diseases.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents approves plans to move forward with architectural plans and design for a new IMM building. Designed by the Missouri firm of Berkebile Immenschuh Nelson McDowell Architects and Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates from Pennsylvania, the seven-story building is planned to be adjacent to University Center Tower (UCT).
Groundbreaking event for the IMM’s new building.
The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases becomes the official name of the institute, in recognition of a $20 million gift by The Brown Foundation, Inc.
UT System Regents approve renaming the new building The Fayez S. Sarofim Research Building in recognition of the largest gift every received by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston—$25 million to advance stem cell research.
Thomas Caskey, M.D., is named director—and CEO-elect of the IMM, joining the leadership team of Murad and Gigli as chief operating officer and executive vice president of molecular medicine and genetics.
January (11)
Willerson announces to the UT Health Science Center Development Board that the New Frontiers development campaign is successfully completed – reaching and surpassing its $200 million goal. Campaign co-chairs, Beth Robertson and the late Ben Love are recognized for their leadership in fundraising.
First faculty and staff occupy new Sarofim Research Building.
Sarofim Research Building is formally dedicated.

— Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H.
John P. McGovern, M.D., Professor of Oslerian Medicine
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston