This post reminded me of an article in The Scientist that talked about seven outstanding technological advances that have revolutionized life sciences research. The same issue also gives a popular science description of these technologies, alongwith an excellent chronological listing of major breakthroughs leading to the development and maturation of the technology. These seven big achievements are:
1. The automated DNA sequencer - starting with the first one from Applied Biosystems in 1986 that enabled the success of the Human Genome Project
2. The BLAST algorithm - stands for Basic Local Alignment Search Tool - and remains the workhorse bioinformatics tool for navigating through the immense amount of sequencing data that poured out
3. The DNA microarray - that lead to the formation of Affymetrix, today a $2.5B corporation
4. The yeast two-hybrid assay - for identifying protein-protein interactions.
5. The MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer - to quantify the relative abundance of thousands of proteins in a cell lysate - the foundation for proteomics.
6. The lab-on-a-chip - certainly an area of interest for me these past 3-4 years - microfluidics has allowed the incorporation of analytical methods on microfabricated chips, the resulting miniaturization ushering in a new age of rapid, high throughput analysis of tiny samples.
7. The optical trap – sophisticated optical tweezers to manipulate cells.
These advances in technology have evolved over many years, with key contributions by a number of eminent scientists and engineers, several of whom could have been recipient of Nobel prizes. Yet, in the long run, the legacy of a scientist is not measured by the number of Nobels, but by the impact of his scientific contributions, so I dont think Einstein would have been so upset about not getting the Nobel for his work in relativity .... he would have been satisfied seeing the E=mc