Significant Events in the History of Virology

This wall poster shows a timeline of notable events in the history of virology from the discovery of different viruses and the development of critical vaccines, to recent outbreaks of emerging viruses and novel findings that have propelled the field forward. The poster provides details about each event listed, with the intent of highlighting their importance and recognizing those who have played a role in the advancement of the field.

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Virology is a branch of microbiology that is concerned with the study of viruses, specifically focusing on their classification, genetics, and evolution, how they infect their hosts, and the immune responses and infectious diseases that they cause. The study of “viruses” began around the end of the 19th century when Dmitri Ivanovsky and Martinus Beijerinck showed that tobacco mosaic disease was caused by an infectious agent that passed through a filter designed to exclude the smallest known bacteria. While these studies established the foundation of virology, there was very little known at the time about the nature of viruses or their capabilities, as well as a lack of tools to study them. Today, considerable advances have been made in the field, but more research is still necessary to achieve a greater understanding of the composition of different viruses and how they are evolving, their mechanisms of replication and propagation, and the antiviral immune responses that they evoke, so that we are adequately prepared for the next emerging virus. There are currently 23 families and 219 species of viruses that infect humans, with three to four new species being identified each year.1 This number accounts for only a small portion of the total number of viruses, which is actually far greater when you consider those that infect bacteria, fungi, protozoa, plants, and other vertebrates. More staggering than the number of viruses that have been identified is the range and severity of the infectious diseases that are caused by viruses including influenza, polio, rabies, yellow fever, measles, AIDS, and some forms of cancer, to name just a few.

  1. Woolhouse, M. et al. (2012) Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 367:2864.

Citations for the graphics used in the poster are listed here.

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Citations for the Graphics Used in the Significant Events in the History of Virology Wall Poster



1892: Adapted from


1898-2 (cows):


1911: Drawn by in-house graphic designer


1935: (

1936: Drawn by in-house graphic designer

1937: Drawn by in-house graphic designer

1939: Adapted from

1951: Drawn by in-house graphic designer

1952: Adapted from

1953: - Granted permission to use the image by Lu Carle, Gateway Music Corporation,


1955: Adapted from


1962: Drawn by in-house graphic designer




1970-1: Adapted from




1976: Adapted from



1980: and


1983: Drawn by in-house graphic designer


1988: Adapted from and



1999: Adapted from


2005: Adapted from

2006-1(vial with syringe):


2009: Drawn by in-house graphic designer



2014: Drawn by in-house graphic designer

2016: Drawn by in-house graphic designer

2019: Drawn by in-house graphic designer