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Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s$
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Gordon M. Shepherd MD, DPhil

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391503.001.0001

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Genes: Starting with DNA

Genes: Starting with DNA

(p.15) 2 Genes: Starting with DNA
Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s

Gordon M. Shepherd

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the 1950s as the greatest decade in the history of modern biology, which was marked by the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA in 1953. Although the discovery did not have an immediate impact on neuroscience, its importance for all organ systems was manifest, particularly as it became clear that a majority of the genes are expressed in the nervous system. The race to DNA also became a new paradigm for investigations in modern biology, in which issues regarding the ethics of competition between laboratories and of the adequate recognition of contributions by women were brought to light. The subsequent characterization during the 1950s and early 1960s of the different types of RNA; the identification of the enzymes involved in mitosis, meiosis, transcription, and translation; the formulation of the “central dogma” of molecular biology; and the race for the genetic code, are all part of the lore of modern biology, in general, and molecular neuroscience, in particular.

Keywords:   DNA, RNA, modern biology, modern neuroscience

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