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Baltimore, David

David Baltimore

Born: March 7, 1938
New York, New York

American virologist

The American virologist David Baltimore was only thirty-seven years old when he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his significant work in cancer research.

Early life and education

David Baltimore was born on March 7, 1938, in New York, New York, the son of Richard and Gertrude (Lipschitz) Baltimore. As a student Baltimore excelled in math, but quickly developed an intense interest in science. While still a high school student, he spent a summer at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, experiencing biology under actual research conditions. This so affected him that upon entering Swarthmore College in 1956 he declared himself a biology major. Later he switched to chemistry to complete a research thesis (a research report, usually a requirement for graduation). He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor's degree with high honors. Between his sophomore and junior years at Swarthmore he spent a summer at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. There the influence of George Streisinger led him to molecular biology, a branch of biology concerned with the structure and development of biological systems.

Baltimore spent two years doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in biophysics. He then left for a summer at the Albert Einstein Medical College and to take the animal virus course at Cold Spring Harbor under Richard Franklin and Edward Simon. In 1965 he became a research associate at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, working in association with Renato Dulbecco. Here he met fellow scientist, Alice S. Huang, and the two were married on October 5, 1968. In 1972 Baltimore was appointed to a full professorship at MIT. In 1974 he joined the staff of the MIT Center for Cancer Research under Salvador Luria.

Received recognition

Baltimore received many awards for his work in cancer research. In 1971 he was the recipient of the Gustav Stern award in virology (the study of viruses), the Warren Triennial Prize, and the Eli Lilly and Co. award in microbiology (a type of biology that investigates microscopic life forms) and immunology (a branch of science that involves the study of the immune system). His most prestigious award came in 1975 when he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Howard M. Temin and Renato Dulbecco for research on retroviruses (types of viruses) and cancer. His research demonstrated that the flow of genetic information in such viruses did not have to go from DNA to RNA (deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid, living cells that help define an individual's characteristics) but could flow from RNA to DNA, a finding that changed the central belief of molecular biology.

Baltimore's interests later took him further into the study of how viruses reproduce themselves and into work on the immune systems of animals and humans, where he concentrated upon the process of developing antibodies (proteins that help the immune system fight infection). Central to much of this work was DNA technology, in which he maintained an active interest.

Baltimore proved himself an effective educator, conducting seminars with graduate students as well as his peers. He also became successful at directing research rather than doing it himself, again working closely with students.

Research controversy

In 1989 Thereza Imanishi-Kari, with whom Baltimore coauthored a 1986 paper on immunology, was charged with falsifying data. Imanishi-Kari, an MIT assistant professor, was cleared in 1996 when a top government ethics panel (a group that judges behavior) declared they found no wrongdoing. Although Baltimore was never connected to any wrongdoing, the incident caused him to withdraw the paper. He was also pressured by colleagues to resign (quit) from his presidency at New York's Rockefeller University, which he did in 1991.

In 1998 Daniel Kevles, a humanities and scientific policy professor at the California Institute of Technology who had followed the case closely, wrote "The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character." Kevles investigated the events and proposed that Imanishi-Kari and Baltimore were unjustly given a bad name.

Baltimore Chairs AIDS Vaccine Research Panel

Baltimore was an early supporter of government-sponsored research on acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS, an incurable virus that attacks the body's immune system). In December 1996 Baltimore became the head of a new AIDS vaccine research panel for the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Health. The panel was formed to step up the search for an AIDS vaccine. He also became the president of the California Institute of Technology in 1997.

In 2000 President Bill Clinton (1946) awarded Baltimore the National Medals of Science and Technology, the highest American award for science. He was honored for his discoveries in molecular biology, immunology, and virology.

Baltimore remains active in the scientific community. He is a strong supporter of the highly controversial issue of stem-cell research, a cancer research that takes cells from embryos. Baltimore argues that the study of such cells can greatly increase disease research. "Embryonic stem cells hold remarkable promise for reversing the devastation of human disease," Baltimore wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2002. "To refuse to allow [the country] to participate in this exciting research would be an affront [an offense] to the American people, especially those who suffer from diseases that could one day be reversed by these miraculous cells."

For More Information

Crotty, Shane. Ahead of the Curve: David Baltimore's Life in Science. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Sarasohn, Judy. Science on Trial: The Whistle Blower, the Accused, and the Nobel Laureate. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

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Baltimore, David (1938- )

Baltimore, David (1938- )

American microbiologist

At the age of 37, David Baltimore was awarded the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his groundbreaking work on retrovirus replication. Baltimore pioneered work on the molecular biology of animal viruses , especially poliovirus, and his investigations of how viruses interact with cells led, in 1970, to the discovery of a novel enzyme, reverse transcriptase. This enzyme transcribes RNA to DNA and permits a unique family of viruses, the retroviruses , to code for viral proteins. Baltimore shared the Nobel Prize with virologist Renato Dulbecco and oncologist Howard Temin, who independently discovered the same enzyme. Baltimore's achievement had profound implications for the scientific community because it challenged the central dogma of molecular biology, which stated that the flow of genetic information was unidirectional, running from DNA to RNA to proteins. His work also contributed to the understanding of certain diseases such as AIDS , now known to be caused by the retrovirus HIV .

David Baltimore was born in New York City to Richard Baltimore and Gertrude Lipschitz. Baltimore was a gifted science student while still in high school; he attended a prestigious summer program at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, in which he studied mammalian genetics. It was during this program that he met his future colleague, Howard Temin, and decided to pursue a career in scientific research. As an undergraduate Baltimore attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and graduated in 1960 with high honors in chemistry. He started graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but he transferred after one year to the Rockefeller Institute, now the Rockefeller University, in New York. There he studied with Richard M. Franklin, a molecular biophysicist specializing in RNA viruses. Baltimore earned his Ph.D. in 1964 and then completed three years postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. There he met Renato Dulbecco, who developed innovative techniques for examining animal viruses, and Alice Shih Huang , who later became his wife. Huang was Baltimore's postdoctoral student at Salk, collaborated in some of his viral research, and later became a full professor at the Harvard Medical School. In 1968 Baltimore joined the MIT faculty, became full professor in 1972, and in 1973 was awarded a lifetime research professorship by the American Cancer Society. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1975 Baltimore continued to be honored for his work. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974.

In the mid-1970s Baltimore turned to research in molecular immunology , establishing a major presence in that rapidly developing field. As a prominent figure in the scientific community, Baltimore became outspoken about the potential risks of genetic engineering. He was concerned that the rapidly developing techniques of molecular biology might be misused. In 1975 Baltimore initiated a conference in which scientists attempted to design a self-regulatory system regarding experiments with recombinant DNA. In the following year the National Institutes of Health established a committee to oversee federally funded experiments in the field of genetic engineering. Baltimore became a key link between basic molecular biology and the burgeoning biotechnology industry. In 1984 he was appointed founding director of the new Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, which is affiliated with MIT; he remained at this post until 1990. In that position Baltimore made significant advances in the field of immunology and synthetic vaccine research. He earned wide admiration for forging dynamically amicable relations between the two institutions, developing a high-powered young faculty and molding the Whitehead into one of the world's leading institutions of its kind. Baltimore was a major influence in shaping the Human Genome Project and is an outspoken advocate of greater national investment in AIDS research.

In July 1990 Baltimore became president of Rockefeller University, launching an energetic program of fiscal and structural reform to bring the university's finances under control and to provide greater encouragement for junior faculty members. He resigned from the presidency at the end of 1991. At the time he was caught up in a controversy that stemmed from his support of a collaborator who had been charged with scientific misconduct, but whose scientific honesty he had resolutely defended. Several years later the collaborator was found to be innocent of all the charges raised against her. Baltimore remained on the faculty of Rockefeller University until 1994, when he returned to MIT as the Ivan R. Cottrell Professor of Molecular Biology and Immunology, and then Institute Professor.

During his career, David Baltimore has served on numerous governmental advisory committees. Apart from being a member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is also affiliated with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Society of London. At the end of 1996 he was appointed head of the newly created AIDS Vaccine Research Committee of the National Institutes of Health, a group that supports all efforts to accelerate the discovery of a vaccine against AIDS.

See also AIDS, recent advances in research and treatment; Immunogenetics; Viral genetics; Viral vectors in gene therapy; Viruses and responses to viral infection

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David Baltimore

David Baltimore

The American virologist David Baltimore (born 1938) received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work on retrovirus biochemistry and its significance for cancer research.

David Baltimore was born on March 7, 1938, in New York City, the son of Richard I. and Gertrude (Lipschitz) Baltimore. While still a high school student, he spent a summer at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, experiencing biology under actual research conditions. This so affected him that upon entering Swarthmore College in 1956 he declared himself a biology major. Later he switched to chemistry to complete a research thesis and graduated in 1960 with a B.A. and high honors. Between his sophomore and junior years at Swarthmore, he spent a summer at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, where the influence of George Streisinger led him to molecular biology.

Baltimore spent two years of graduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in biophysics, then left for a summer with Philip Marcus at the Albert Einstein Medical College and to take the animal virus course at Cold Spring Harbor under Richard Franklin and Edward Simon. He then joined Franklin at the Rockefeller Institute, completing his thesis by 1964 and staying on as a postdoctoral fellow in animal virology with James Darnell.

In 1965 he became a research associate at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, working in association with Renato Dulbecco. Here he first met Alice S. Huang, with whom he also conducted research. He and Huang were married on October 5, 1968, and that same year they returned to MIT, where he held the position of associate professor of microbiology until 1971. In 1972 he rose to full professorship, and in 1974 he joined the staff of the MIT Center for Cancer Research under Salvador Luria.

Received Recognition For Cancer and Immunology Research

Baltimore received many awards for his work. In 1971 he was the recipient of the Gustav Stern award in virology, the Warren Triennial Prize, and the Eli Lilly and Co. award in microbiology and immunology. A year after being promoted to full professorship at MIT, he was rewarded a lifetime research professorship by the American Cancer Society. In 1974 he was presented with the U.S. Steel Foundation award in molecular biology and the Gairdner Foundation Annual Award. His most prestigious award came in 1975 when he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Howard M. Temin and Renato Dulbecco for research on retro-viruses and cancer. Much of this work concentrated upon protein and nucleic acid synthesis of RNA (ribonucleic acid) animal viruses, especially polio-virus and the RNA tumor virus. His research demonstrated that the flow of genetic information in such viruses did not have to go from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) to RNA but could flow from RNA to DNA, a finding which undermined the central dogma of molecular biology—i.e., unilinear information flow from DNA to proteins. This process came to be called, facetiously, "reverse transcriptase."

Baltimore's interests later took him further into the study of how viruses reproduce themselves and into work on the immune systems of animals and humans, where he concentrated upon the process by which antibodies may develop. Central to much of this work was DNA technology, in which he maintained an active interest.

Baltimore proved himself an effective educator, conducting seminars with graduate students and younger colleagues. He also became successful at directing research rather than doing it himself, again working closely with students.

Research Debacle

In 1989 Thereza Imanishi-Kari, a collegue with whom he co-authored a 1986 paper on immunology for Cell, was charged with falsifying data. Imanishi-Kari, a Massachussets Institute of Technology Assistant Professor, was absolved when a top government ethics panel declared they found no wrongdoing in 1996. Although Baltimore was never implicated in any wrongdoing, the incident caused him to withdraw the paper. He was also pressured by colleagues to resign from his presidency at New York's Rockefeller University, which he did in 1991.

Baltimore Chairs AIDS Vaccine Research Panel

In December 1996, Baltimore became the head of a new AIDS vaccine research panel for the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Health. The panel was formed to step up the search for an AIDS vaccine. He also became the President of the California Institute of Technology in 1997.

Further Reading

Short biographies of David Baltimore can be found in the 39th edition of Who's Who in America (1976-1977) and in the 14th edition of American Men and Women of Science: Physical and Biological Sciences (1979). He provided an autobiographical sketch in the Nobel Lectures (1977), and a New York Times interview (August 26, 1980) gives additional information.

For further reading, see: Appeals Panel Reverses Fraud Finding by K. Fackelmann in Science News, July 6, 1996; Baltimore to Head New Vaccine Panel by Jon Cohen in Science, December 20, 1996; and A Shot In the Arm by Mark Schoofs, The Village Voice, December 24, 1996. □

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Baltimore, David

David Baltimore (bôl´tĬmôr), 1938–, American microbiologist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Rockefeller Univ., 1964. He conducted (1965–68) virology research at the Salk Institute before becoming a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. In 1970 he and his wife Alice Huang discovered reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that allows RNA to synthesize DNA in retroviruses. He shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Renato Dulbecco and Howard Temin for his experimental confirmation of the connection between certain RNA viruses and cancer.

Appointed president of Rockefeller Univ. in 1990, he resigned the next year after a scientific fraud scandal. A paper he coauthored was said to contain fraudulent data from another author, Dr. Thereza Imanishi-Kari, and Baltimore was criticized for his vehement defense of the paper despite the evidence. In 1996, an appeals panel overturned the verdict of the original investigating office, the federal Office of Scientific Integrity (now the Office of Reasearch Integrity), and Baltimore and Imanishi-Kari were exonerated. In 1997 Baltimore was appointed president of the California Institute of Technology.

See D. J. Kevles, The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character (1998).

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