David Baltimore

David Baltimore

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David Baltimore is an American biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

, university administrator, and Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

. He served as president of the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) from 1997 to 2006, and is currently the Robert A. Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech. He also served as president of Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University
The Rockefeller University is a private university offering postgraduate and postdoctoral education. It has a strong concentration in the biological sciences. It is also known for producing numerous Nobel laureates...

 from 1990 to 1991, and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the...

 in 2007.

Early years

Baltimore was born to Gertrude Lipschitz and Richard Baltimore in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He graduated from Great Neck High School
Great Neck North High School
John L. Miller Great Neck North High School or simply "North High," or "North," is a public high school, including grades 9 through 12, in the village of Great Neck, New York, operated by the Great Neck School District...

 in 1956, and credits his interest in biology to a high-school summer spent at the Jackson Laboratory
Jackson Laboratory
The Jackson Laboratory was founded in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1929 by former University of Maine and University of Michigan president C. C. Little under the name Roscoe B...

's Summer Student Program in Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population is 5,235. Bar Harbor is a famous summer colony in the Down East region of Maine. It is home to the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory and Mount Desert Island...

. He earned a BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 at Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college in the United States with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. The college is located in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia....

 in 1960, and received his Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 at Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University
The Rockefeller University is a private university offering postgraduate and postdoctoral education. It has a strong concentration in the biological sciences. It is also known for producing numerous Nobel laureates...

 in 1964. After postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 (MIT) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a graduate school of Yeshiva University. It is a not-for-profit, private, nonsectarian medical school located on the Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus in the Morris Park neighborhood of the borough of the Bronx of New York City...

 and a non-faculty research position at the Salk Institute, he joined the MIT faculty in 1968. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1974.


In 1975, at the age of 37, he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

 with Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco
Renato Dulbecco
Renato Dulbecco is an Italian virologist who won a 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on reverse transcriptase. In 1973 he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University together with Theodore Puck and Harry Eagle. Dulbecco was the recipient of the Selman A...

. 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
Reverse transcriptase
In the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry, a reverse transcriptase, also known as RNA-dependent DNA polymerase, is a DNA polymerase enzyme that transcribes single-stranded RNA into single-stranded DNA. It also helps in the formation of a double helix DNA once the RNA has been reverse...

 (RTase or RT). Reverse transcriptase is essential for the reproduction of retrovirus
A retrovirus is an RNA virus that is duplicated in a host cell using the reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome. The DNA is then incorporated into the host's genome by an integrase enzyme. The virus thereafter replicates as part of the host cell's DNA...

es such as HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and was also discovered independently, and at about the same time, by Mizutani and Temin.

Also in 1975, Baltimore was an organizer of the Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA
Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA
The Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA was an influential conference organized by Paul Berg discussing the potential biohazards and regulation of biotechnology held in February 1975 at a conference center Asilomar State Beach...

. In 1982, Baltimore was appointed the founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute, where he remained through June 1990.

In 1981, Baltimore and Vincent Racaniello
Vincent Racaniello
Vincent R. Racaniello is a Higgins Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons...

, a post-doctoral fellow in his laboratory, used recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA
Recombinant DNA molecules are DNA sequences that result from the use of laboratory methods to bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in biological organisms...

 technology to generate a plasmid
In microbiology and genetics, a plasmid is a DNA molecule that is separate from, and can replicate independently of, the chromosomal DNA. They are double-stranded and, in many cases, circular...

 encoding the genome of poliovirus
Poliovirus, the causative agent of poliomyelitis, is a human enterovirus and member of the family of Picornaviridae.Poliovirus is composed of an RNA genome and a protein capsid. The genome is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA genome that is about 7500 nucleotides long. The viral particle is...

, an animal RNA virus. The plasmid DNA was introduced into cultured mammalian cells and infectious poliovirus was produced. The infectious clone, DNA encoding the genome of a virus, is a standard tool used today in virology. Other important breakthroughs from Baltimore's lab include the discovery the transcription factor NF-κB and the recombination activating gene
Recombination activating gene
The recombination activating genes encode enzymes that play an important role in the rearrangement and recombination of the genes of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor molecules during the process of VDJ recombination...

s RAG-1 and RAG-2.

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

Baltimore has influenced national policy concerning recombinant DNA research and the AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 epidemic. He has trained many doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, several of whom have gone on to notable and distinguished research careers. Baltimore is a member of The Jackson Laboratory's Board of Trustees, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nontechnical online magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...

' Board of Sponsors, the National Academy of Sciences USA (NAS), the NAS Institute of Medicine (IOM), Amgen, Inc. Board of Directors, the BB Biotech AG Board of Directors, the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 (NIH) AIDS Vaccine Research Committee (AVRC), and numerous other organizations and their boards.

Baltimore is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival
USA Science and Engineering Festival
USA Science and Engineering Festival was a science festival in Washington, D.C. that founder Larry Book deemed the country’s first national science festival. The inaugural event was held from October 10, 2010 through October 24, 2010 and was planned to be a yearly event. The two week festival...

's Advisory Board and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Pontifical Academy of Sciences
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a scientific academy of the Vatican, founded in 1936 by Pope Pius XI. It is placed under the protection of the reigning Supreme Pontiff. Its aim is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of related...

Imanishi-Kari case

By 1996, the New York Times called the Imanishi-Kari case "The fraud case that evaporated," after an appeals panel found that "the Government failed to prove any of the 19 charges leveled against Dr. Imanishi-Kari." But during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the case was a cause celebre
Cause célèbre
A is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning and heated public debate. The term is particularly used in connection with celebrated legal cases. It is a French phrase in common English use...

, spawning 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
Immunology is a broad branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms. It deals with the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders ; the...

 with Thereza Imanishi-Kari
Thereza Imanishi-Kari
Thereza Imanishi-Kari is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Tufts University.-Biography:Imanishi-Kari is best known for her role in an affair of alleged scientific misconduct. In 1986, Imanishi-Kari had co-authored a scientific paper on immunology with David Baltimore...

 (an Assistant Professor of Biology who had her own laboratory at MIT) as well as four others. 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. Representative
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 John Dingell
John Dingell
John David Dingell, Jr. is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1955 . He is a member of the Democratic Party...

 (D-MI) also aggressively pursued it, eventually calling in U.S. Secret Service (USSS; U.S. Treasury) document examiners.

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. Baltimore and three co-authors then retracted the paper; Imanishi-Kari and Moema H. Reis did not sign the retraction.

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

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. 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. Citing repeated instances where Dr. O'Toole's allegations were "not credible", the panel dismissed all charges against Imanishi-Kari. Furthermore, 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." Neither OSI nor ORI ever accused Baltimore of research misconduct.

Baltimore has been both praised and criticized for his actions in this matter. Historian of science Daniel Kevles
Daniel Kevles
Daniel J. Kevles is an American historian of science. He is currently the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University, a position he assumed in 2001...

 recounts the affair in his 1998 book, The Baltimore Case, while Yale University mathematician Serge Lang
Serge Lang
Serge Lang was a French-born American mathematician. He was known for his work in number theory and for his mathematics textbooks, including the influential Algebra...

 strongly criticized Baltimore's behavior. Baltimore has also written his own analysis.


On May 13, 1997, Baltimore was appointed president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He began serving in the office 15 October 1997 and was inaugurated 9 March 1998.

During Baltimore's tenure at Caltech, United States President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 awarded Baltimore the National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

 in 1999 for his numerous contributions to the scientific world. In 2004, Rockefeller University gave Baltimore its highest honor, Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

In October 2005, Baltimore resigned the office of the president, 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..." Former Georgia Tech Provost Jean-Lou Chameau
Jean-Lou Chameau
Jean-Lou Chameau is a civil engineer and the current president of the California Institute of Technology. Previously he served as a provost of the Georgia Institute of Technology....

 succeeded Baltimore as president of Caltech. Baltimore remains the Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech and is an active member of the Institute's community.

Soon after Baltimore's resignation, and at his request, Caltech began investigating the work Luk van Parijs
Luk Van Parijs
Luk Van Parijs was an associate professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Cancer Research. After investigating for a year, MIT fired Van Parijs for research misconduct. In a press release, MIT claimed Van Parijs admitted to fabricating and falsifying research...

 had conducted while a postdoc in Baltimore's laboratory. 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. 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.

See also

  • History of RNA biology
    History of RNA biology
    Numerous key discoveries in biology have emerged from studies of RNA , including seminal work in the fields of biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, molecular evolution and structural biology. As of 2010, 30 scientists have been awarded Nobel Prizes for experimental work that...

  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates
  • List of RNA biologists
  • Baltimore classification
    Baltimore classification
    The Baltimore classification, developed by David Baltimore, is a virus classification system that groups viruses into families, depending on their type of genome and their method of replication....

  • 73079 Davidbaltimore
    73079 Davidbaltimore
    73079 Davidbaltimore is a main belt asteroid. Its provisional designation was 2002 GX8.It was discovered on April 14, 2002 at the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project at Palomar Observatory.The asteroid was named after David Baltimore 73079 Davidbaltimore is a main belt asteroid. Its provisional...

External links

    • 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).