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David Baltimore

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Subject: California Institute of Technology, List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation, Salvador Luria, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Baltimore classification
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David Baltimore

David Baltimore
David Baltimore in 2013
Born (1938-03-07) March 7, 1938
New York City, New York, USA
Nationality United States
Fields Biology
Alma mater
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse Alice S. Huang (m. 1968; 1 child)
External video
Nobel Prize Interview with Dr. David Baltimore, 26 April 2001, Nobel
David Baltimore: Danger from the Wild: HIV, Can We Conquer It?, iBiology

David Baltimore (born March 7, 1938) is an American biologist, university administrator, and 1975 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine. He served as president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1997 to 2006, and is currently the President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech. He also served as president of Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1991, and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. Dr. Baltimore has profoundly influenced international science, including key contributions to immunology, virology, cancer research, biotechnology, and recombinant DNA research, through his accomplishments as a researcher, administrator, educator, and public advocate for science and engineering. He has trained many doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, several of whom have gone on to notable and distinguished research careers. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has received a number of awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1999. Dr. Baltimore currently sits on the Board of Sponsors[1] for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Doctoral & postdoctoral work 2.1
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2.2
      • Reverse transcriptase 2.2.1
      • Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA 2.2.2
      • Immunology, virology, and cancer research 2.2.3
    • Rockefeller University 2.3
    • California Institute of Technology 2.4
    • Public policy 2.5
    • Controversies 2.6
      • Imanishi-Kari case 2.6.1
      • Luk van Parijs case 2.6.2
    • Awards and honors 2.7
  • Personal life 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Baltimore in the 1970s

Baltimore was born on March 7, 1938 in New York City to Gertrude (Lipschitz) and Richard Baltimore. Raised in the Queens neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Rego Park, Queens, he moved with his family to suburban Great Neck, New York while he was in second grade because his mother felt that the city schools were inadequate. His father had been raised as an Orthodox Jew and his mother was an atheist, and Baltimore observed Jewish holidays and would attend synagogue with his father through his Bar Mitzvah.[2] He graduated from Great Neck High School in 1956, and credits his interest in biology to a high-school summer spent at the Jackson Laboratory's Summer Student Program in Bar Harbor, Maine.[3][4]


Doctoral & postdoctoral work

Baltimore earned a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he worked one summer.[5] Already interested in virology, he applied to Rockefeller University to work with Richard M. Franklin. His doctoral work involved the synthesis of RNA animal viruses. Baltimore was the first to report a virus coding for an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, as a result of his discovery that mengovirus-infected cells synthesized an enzyme that triggered the synthesis of viral RNA.[6] Baltimore received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University in 1964.[7]

Baltimore held postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with James E. Darnell and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with Jerard Hurwitz.[7] During this time he began working with poliovirus.[2][6]

In 1965, he was offered a non-faculty research position at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies by Renato Dulbecco. There he worked on the replication of poliovirus RNA, and on viral protein synthesis and the formation of poliovirus proteins with graduate student Michael F. Jacobson.[6] They discovered the mechanism of proteolytic cleavage of viral polyprotein precursors,[8] pointing to the importance of proteolytic processing in the synthesis of eukaryotic proteins.[6][9] While at Salk, Baltimore also began to work with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), to which he was introduced by post-doctoral student Alice S. Huang, who began working with Baltimore at Salk in 1967.[9][10]

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Reverse transcriptase

Baltimore joined the MIT faculty as an associate professor of microbiology in early 1968.[7] Alice S. Huang also moved to MIT to continue her research on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). They became a couple, and married in October 1968.[2][10]

At MIT, Huang, Baltimore, and graduate student Martha Stampfer discovered that VSV involved an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase within the virus particle, and used a novel replication strategy to replicate its RNA genome. VSV entered a host cell as a single negative strand of RNA, but brought with it RNA polymerase to stimulate the processes of transcription and replication of more RNA.[9][10][11]

Baltimore extended this work and examined two RNA tumour viruses, Rauscher murine leukemia virus and Rous sarcoma virus.[9][12] He went on to discover reverse transcriptase (RTase or RT) — the enzyme that transcribes DNA from RNA. In doing so, he discovered a distinct class of viruses, later named retroviruses, that use an RNA template to catalyze the synthesis of DNA.[13] This overturned a "central dogma" of genetic theory, the belief that genetic information flowed unidirectionally from DNA to RNA (and thence to proteins).[12][14][15] Reverse transcriptase is essential for the reproduction of retroviruses, allowing such viruses to turn viral RNA strands into viral DNA strands. The viruses that fall into this category include HIV.[10][13]

Baltimore became a full professor at MIT in 1972.[2] In 1974, Baltimore was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[16] Increasingly interested in cancer research, in 1974 he joined the Center for Cancer Research at MIT, recently created under the directorship of Dr. Salvador Luria.[17]:85

In 1975, at the age of 37, Baltimore shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco. The citation reads, "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell." At the time, Baltimore's greatest contribution to virology was his discovery of reverse transcriptase, which was also discovered independently, and at about the same time, by Mizutani and Temin.[13] Their papers were published concurrently in Nature.[2]

Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA

Baltimore also helped Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA, held in February 1975. The conference discussed possible dangers of new biotechnology, drew up voluntary safety guidelines, and issued a call for an ongoing moratorium on certain types of experiments and review of possible experiments.[2] Baltimore was well aware of the importance of the changes occurring in the laboratory: "The whole Asilomar process opened up to the world that modern biology had new powers that you had never conceived of before.".[17]:111

Immunology, virology, and cancer research

After winning the Nobel Prize, Baltimore reorganized his laboratory, refocusing on immunology and virology, with immunoglobulin gene expression as a major area of interest. Baltimore's laboratory studied transcription factors affecting the development of B lymphocytes in Abelson mouse leukemia virus-affected cells, and discovered that its oncoprotein was a tyrosine-specific protein kinase. This type of enzymatic activity was also discovered by Tony Hunter, who has done extensive work in the area.

In 1981, Baltimore and Vincent Racaniello, a post-doctoral fellow in his laboratory, used recombinant DNA technology to generate a plasmid encoding the genome of poliovirus, an animal RNA virus. The plasmid DNA was introduced into cultured mammalian cells and infectious poliovirus was produced.[18] The infectious clone, DNA encoding the genome of a virus, is a standard tool used today in virology.

In 1982, Baltimore was appointed the founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute. Whitehead gave him carte blanche in determining both where the institute research focus and location.[17]:140[19][20] He successfully established the institute and remained there through June 1990.[21] The Whitehead Institute has been rated as doing "World leading research in genetics and molecular biology",[22] and is an important partner in the Human Genome Project.[23]

Important breakthroughs from Baltimore's lab include the discovery of the key transcription factor NF-κB by Dr. Ranjan Sen and David Baltimore in 1986.[24] Their intention was to identify nuclear factors required for Ig gene expression in B lymphocytes. What they discovered, NF-κB, turned out to have much broader importance. NF-κB is involved in regulating cellular responses and belongs to the category of "rapid-acting" primary transcription factors. Their discovery led to an "information explosion" involving "one of the most intensely studied signaling paradigms of the last two decades."[25]

As early as 1984, Rudolf Grosschedl and David Weaver, students in Baltimore's laboratory, were experimenting with the creation of transgenic mice as a model for the study of disease. They suggested that "control of Ig gene rearrangement might be the only mechanism that determines the specificity of heavy chain gene expression within the lymphoid cell lineage."[26] In 1987, they created transgenic mice with the fused gene that developed fatal leukemia.

David G. Schatz and Marjorie Oettinger, as students in Baltimore's research group in 1988 and 1989, identified the protein pair that rearranges immunoglobulin genes, the recombination activating genes RAG-1 and RAG-2.[27] This was a key discovery in determining how the immune system can have specificity for a given molecule out of many possibilities,[28] and was considered by Baltimore as of 2005 to be "our most significant discovery in immunology".[5]:Addendum, May 2005

In 1990, as a student in David Baltimore’s laboratory at MIT, Brian Druker's development of the anti-cancer drug Imatinib (Gleevec), which deactivates bcr-abl proteins. Gleevec has shown impressive results in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia and has shown promise in treating gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST).[29][30][31] GIST cells show evidence of mutated kit genes and excessive kit activity.[29]

Rockefeller University

Baltimore became president of Rockefeller University in New York City on July 1, 1990. After resigning on December 3, 1991, (see Imanishi-Kari case) Baltimore remained on the Rockefeller University faculty and continued research until spring of 1994. He then rejoined the MIT faculty.

California Institute of Technology

From left: JPL Director Charles Elachi, La Canada-Flintridge Mayor Greg Brown, Baltimore and JPL Deputy Director Eugene Tattini (2006).

On May 13, 1997, Baltimore was appointed president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).[32][33][34][35][36] He began serving in the office 15 October 1997 and was inaugurated 9 March 1998.[37]

During Baltimore's tenure at Caltech, United States President Bill Clinton awarded Baltimore the National Medal of Science in 1999 for his numerous contributions to the scientific world. In 2004, Rockefeller University gave Baltimore its highest honor, Doctor of Science (honoris causa).[38]

In October 2005, Baltimore resigned the office of the president at Caltech[39] (see Luk van Parijs case). Former Georgia Tech Provost Jean-Lou Chameau succeeded Baltimore as president of Caltech.[40] Baltimore remains the Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech and is an active member of the Institute's community.[41]

His laboratory at Caltech is focused on two major research areas: understanding the mammalian immune system and creating viral vectors to make the immune system more effective in resisting cancer. Understanding the diverse activity of the NF-κB transcription factor is one focus. NF-κB is now known to activate as many as 1000 genes in response to various stimuli. It is also known to play different roles in different cells.[41]

Another focus is understanding the functions of microRNA. MicroRNAs provide fine control over gene expression by regulating the amount of protein made by particular messenger RNAs.[41] In recent research led by Jimmy Zhao, Baltimore's team has discovered a small RNA molecule called microRNA-146a (miR-146a) and bred a strain of mice that lacks miR146a. They have used the miR146a(-) mice as a model to study the effects of chronic inflammation on the activity of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Their results suggest that microRNA-146a protects HSCs during chronic inflammation, and that its lack may contribute to blood cancers and bone marrow failure.[42]

Public policy

Baltimore recently joined with other scientists to call for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique to alter inheritable human DNA.[43] A key step enabling researchers to slice up any DNA sequence they choose was developed by Emmanuelle Charpentier, then at Umea University in Sweden, and Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley.[44] Reminiscent of the Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA in 1975, those involved want both scientists and the public to be more aware of the ethical issues and risks involved with new techniques for genome modification.[43]

In addition to his influence on public policy for recombinant DNA research, Baltimore has influenced national policy concerning the AIDS epidemic. In 1986, he and Sheldon M. Wolff were invited by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine to coauthor an independent report: Confronting AIDS (1986), in which they called for a $1 billion research program for HIV/AIDS.[2][45] As of 1996 he was appointed head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIDS Vaccine Research Committee (AVRC).[46]

Baltimore is a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA (NAS), 1974;[47] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1974; the NAS Institute of Medicine (IOM), 1974;[48] the [49] the Royal Society (FRS) of London in 1987;[50] the French Academy of Sciences, 2000;[51] and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).[48] He is also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 1978.[52] In 2006 Baltimore was elected to a three-year term as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).[48]

Baltimore is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[53] Baltimore also serves on The Jackson Laboratory's Board of Trustees,[54] the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Board of Sponsors,[55] Amgen, Inc. Board of Directors,[56] and numerous other organizations and their boards.


Imanishi-Kari case

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Thereza Imanishi-Kari, a scientist who was not in Baltimore's laboratory but in a separate, independent laboratory at MIT, was implicated in a case of scientific fraud. The case received extensive news coverage and a Congressional investigation. The case was linked to Baltimore's name because of his scientific collaboration with and later his strong defense of Imanishi-Kari against accusations of fraud.

In 1986, while a Professor of Biology at MIT and Director at Whitehead, Baltimore co-authored a scientific paper on immunology with Thereza Imanishi-Kari (an Assistant Professor of Biology who had her own laboratory at MIT) as well as four others.[57] A postdoctoral fellow in Imanishi-Kari's laboratory, Margot O'Toole, who was not an author, reported concerns about the paper, ultimately accusing Imanishi-Kari of fabricating data in a cover-up. Baltimore, however, refused to retract the paper.

O'Toole soon dropped her challenge, but the NIH, which had funded the contested paper's research, began investigating, thanks to the insistence of Walter W. Stewart, a self-appointed fraud buster, and Ned Feder, his lab head at the NIH.[58] Representative John Dingell (D-MI) also aggressively pursued it, eventually calling in U.S. Secret Service (USSS; U.S. Treasury) document examiners.[59]

Around October 1989, when Baltimore was appointed president of Rockefeller University, around a third of the faculty opposed his appointment because of concerns about his behaviour in the Imanishi-Kari case. He had to visit every laboratory, one by one, to hear those concerns directly from each group of researchers.[58]

In a draft report dated March 14, 1991 and based mainly on USSS forensics findings, NIH's fraud unit, then called the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), accused Imanishi-Kari of falsifying and fabricating data. It also criticized Baltimore for failing to embrace O'Toole's challenge. Less than a week later, the report was leaked to the press.[60] Baltimore and three co-authors then retracted the paper; Imanishi-Kari and Moema H. Reis did not sign the retraction.[61] In the report, Baltimore admitted that he was "too willing to accept" Imanishi-Kari's explanations, and felt he "did too little to seek an independent verification of her data and conclusions."[62] Baltimore publicly apologized for not taking a whistle-blower's charge seriously.[63]

Amid concerns raised by negative publicity in connection with the scandal, Baltimore resigned as president of Rockefeller University[64] and rejoined the MIT Biology faculty.[65]

In July 1992, the US Attorney for the District of MD, who had been investigating the case, announced he would bring neither criminal nor civil charges against Imanishi-Kari.[66][67] In October 1994, however, OSI's successor, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI; HHS) found Imanishi-Kari guilty on 19 counts of research misconduct, basing its conclusions largely on Secret Service analysis of laboratory notebooks.

An HHS appeals panel began meeting in June 1995 to review all charges in detail. In June 1996, the panel ruled that the ORI had failed to prove even one of its 19 charges. After throwing out much of the documentary evidence gathered by the ORI, the panel dismissed all charges against Imanishi-Kari. As their final report stated, the HHS panel "found that much of what ORI presented was irrelevant, had limited probative value, was internally inconsistent, lacked reliability or foundation, was not credible or not corroborated, or was based on unwarranted assumptions." It did conclude that "The Cell paper as a whole is rife with errors of all sorts ... [including] some which, despite all these years and layers of review, have never previously been pointed out or corrected. Responsibility ... must be shared by all participants." Neither OSI nor ORI ever accused Baltimore of research misconduct.[68][69] The reputations of Stewart and Feder, who had pushed for the investigation, were very damaged.[69]

Baltimore has been both defended and criticized for his actions in this matter.[70][71][72][73][74][75][76] In 1993, Yale University mathematician Serge Lang strongly criticized Baltimore's behavior.[77] Historian of science Daniel Kevles, writing after the exoneration of Imanishi-Kari, recounted the affair in his 1998 book, The Baltimore Case.[78][79] Horace Freeland Judson also gives a critical assessment of Baltimore's actions in The Great Betrayal: Fraud In Science.[80] Baltimore has also written his own analysis.[81]

Luk van Parijs case

In October 2005, Baltimore resigned the office of the president of Caltech,[39] saying, "This is not a decision that I have made easily, but I am convinced that the interests of the Institute will be best served by a presidential transition at this particular time in its history..."[82] Soon after, at Baltimore's request, Caltech began investigating the work Luk van Parijs had conducted while a postdoc in Baltimore's laboratory.[83] Van Parijs first came under suspicion at MIT, for work done after he had left Baltimore's lab. After van Parijs had been fired by MIT, his doctoral supervisor also noted problems with work van Parijs did at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, before leaving Harvard to go to Baltimore's lab.[84] Concluding in March 2007, the Caltech investigation found van Parijs alone committed research misconduct and that four papers co-authored by Baltimore, van Parijs, and others required correction.[85]

Awards and honors

Personal life

Baltimore was married in 1968 to Dr. Alice S. Huang. They have one daughter.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g David Baltimore - Interviewed by Sara Lippincott; October - November 2009, California Institute of Technology. Accessed February 21, 2013. "But she was also committed to her family and to my father's right to have his religion, and we celebrated the major holidays, we fasted on Yom Kippur, and I walked with my father to the shul, which was a long walk from where we lived."
  3. ^ Nobel Prize autobiography. (1938-03-07). Retrieved on 2012-02-17.
  4. ^ Kerr, Kathleen. "They Began Here", Newsday. Accessed 23 Oct 2007. "David Baltimore, 1975 Nobel laureate and one of the nation's best-known scientists, is a good case in point. The 60-year-old Baltimore, who graduated from Great Neck High School in 1956..."
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d
  10. ^ a b c d
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Richard Saltus, "MIT Laureate to Lead Caltech: Baltimore Weathered Data Dispute", Boston Globe, 14 May 1997, p. A3
  34. ^ Robert Lee Hotz, "Prominent Biology Nobelist Chosen to Head Caltech; Controversial and outspoken scientist David Baltimore says his appointment reflects school's desire for bigger role in nation's scientific debates." Los Angeles Times, 14 May 1997, pp. A1, 22, 23
  35. ^ "A Luminary of Science for Caltech's Presidency; Nobelist Baltimore has the needed background and clout." LA Times, 15 May 1997, p. B8
  36. ^ R.L. Hotz, "Biomedicine's Bionic Man". LA Times Magazine, 28 September 1997, pp. 10–13, 34–5
  37. ^ Caltech Media Relations, "New Caltech President To Be Honored with Formal Inauguration, Birthday Festschrift," 23 February 1998
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b
  40. ^
  41. ^ a b c
  42. ^
  43. ^ a b
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ a b c
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ (Retracted, see PMID 2032282)
  58. ^ a b
  59. ^ "Fraud in NIH Grant Programs," 12 April 1988; "Scientific Fraud," 4 & 9 May 1989; and "Scientific Fraud (Part 2)," 14 May 1990 (transcript includes 30 April 1990 hearing on R. Gallo's NIH lab)
  60. ^ Philip J. Hilts, "Crucial Data Were Fabricated In Report Signed by Top Biologist" (New York Times, 21 March 1991, pp. A1, B10)
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^ or here [1]
  65. ^ Natalie Angier, "Embattled Biologist Will Return to M.I.T." (New York Times, 19 May 1992, P. C5)
  66. ^ Malcolm Gladwell, "Prosecutors Halt Scientific Fraud Probe; Researcher Baltimore Claims Vindication, Plans to 'Unretract' Paper" (Washington Post, 14 July 1992, P. A3);
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b
  70. ^
  71. ^ Larry Thompson, "Science Under Fire; Behind the Clash Between Congress and Nobel Laureate David Baltimore" (Washington Post "Health" journal, 5(19): 12–6 (9 May 1989))
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^
  81. ^ David Baltimore, 1989 (updated 2003). (2003-07-09). Retrieved on 2012-02-17.
  82. ^
  83. ^ Lois E. Beckett, "MIT Professor Fired for Faking Data; MIT biologist and HMS grad may also have falsified data in work at Harvard" (Harvard Crimson, 31 October 2005) [2]
  84. ^
  85. ^

External links

  • Caltech Biology Division Faculty member page
  • Baltimore Laboratory at Caltech site
  • Autobiography at
  • David Baltimore's seminars: "Danger from the Wild: HIV, Can We Conquer It?"
  • Initial reports of ribonucleic acid-dependent DNA polymerase activity:
  • Department of Health & Human Services, Departmental Appeals Board, Research Integrity Adjudications Panel Thereza Imanishi-Kari, Ph.D. appeal ruling (Docket No. A-95-33, Decision No. 1582, 21 June 1996; Presentation missing footnotes 169–235 & footnote reference nos. 170–235).
  • Nobel Prize video interview [3]
  • "The Discover Magazine Interview with David Baltimore" upon his retirement from the presidency of Caltech in 2006 * PBS interview with Baltimore on AIDS, hepatitis, vaccines and science politics [4]
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