The fruit fly – Drosophila melanogaster – made the jump from nature to laboratory animal in 1901 at Harvard University.
In 1906 Drosophila was adopted by the young evolutionary biologist who would become well known for his work with the flies, Thomas Hunt Morgan, one of the most influential men in experimental biology during the early twentieth century. [Wikipedia - History of Model Organisms]
Morgan, who had been at Columbia since 1904, moved to California in 1928 to develop the new Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. In 1933 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the role of chromosomes in heredity. [Wikipedia]