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Cell Biology Timeline: Major Events in the Field of Cell Biology

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 11/25/2008

The study of cell biology brought about some of the biggest changes in the scientific world. Medical cures and treatments are the result of these milestones.

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    Cell biology (also known as cellular biology) is a fascinating scientific discipline that has produced many results that have shaped what we know about medicine and life in general. Cell biology is the study of cells - their components, how they function, how they reproduce, and what happens when they die. By studying cells, scientists in the cell biology field have made some great discoveries that have continued to have an impact on research and practical use. Several events helped to build cell biology to the level it is at today.

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    Cell Biology Event: Robert Hooke Views Cells

    In 1665, Robert Hooke became the first person to use the term "cells" after viewing a sample taken from a cork tree with his basic microscope. Hooke thought that the cells contained the life juices of the tree, and he and other scientists of that time thought that only plants had these components called cells. Hooke wrote Micrographia, a book about what he had seen through his microscope.

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    Cell Biology Event: Leeuwenhoek Finds Protozoa & Bacteria

    Two great events in the timeline of cell biology were Leeuwenhoek's discovery of protozoa in 1674 and his subsequent discovery of bacteria in 1683. While building better microscopes and undertaking painstaking research, Leeuwenhoek found that he saw "animalcules" in samples of rain water and other substances when viewed under the microscopes. These animalcules were actually protozoa; animal-like organisms made up of a single cell. In 1683, Leeuwenhoek's research led to the discovery of bacteria, which completely changed the course of events in the fields of cell biology, microbiology, and medicine.

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    Cell Biology Event: The Cell Theory is Revealed

    One of the most major events in the cell biology timeline is the introduction of the Cell Theory by Schleiden and Schwann in 1838. The field of cell biology did not have any major advances for over one hundred years, and then Schleiden and Schwann proposed their theory that all life forms consist of one or more cells; cells can only come from other cells; and the cell is the smallest component of life. This changed the way cell biology was researched in the future, and it also gave scientists a working definition for a living organism.

    These major events in the development of the cell biology field have impacted the lives of everyone in the world. Without these developments, medical treatment would not be as advanced as it is today and quality of life would be greatly reduced due to disease and other medical conditions. We can thank these cell biology pioneers for the high level of knowledge medical professionals have today.

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    Reference Materials

    University of Arizona. "Major Events in Cell Biology." Retrieved November 25, 2008 from Studying Cells Tutorial