David Baltimore

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David Baltimore (2013)

David Baltimore (born March 7, 1938 in New York , USA ) is an American microbiologist and virologist . He is one of the pioneers in genetic engineering and works at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In 1975, together with Renato Dulbecco and Howard M. Temin, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries in the field of the interactions between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the host cell”.


Baltimore attended high school in Great Neck , New York . He studied biology at Swarthmore College ( Bachelor 1960), was 1960/61 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and then at Rockefeller University , where he received his doctorate in 1963 . As a post-doc he was at MIT, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and the Salk Institute (with Renato Dulbecco ). From 1968 he was an associate professor at MIT, where he became a professor in 1972. In 1982 he was founding director of the Whitehead Institute , where he stayed until 1990 when he became President of Rockefeller University.

In 1991 he was forced to resign as president in the course of falsification allegations (which could not be corroborated later) about a professor at MIT (Thereza Imanishi-Kari), whom he strongly supported in the affair and with whom he also published jointly at MIT. He initially remained a professor, but moved back to MIT in 1994. In 1997 he became President of Caltech , an office he held until 2005. He is currently a professor at a laboratory named after him at Caltech.

David Baltimore has been married to Alice S. Huang , a biologist who also specializes in virology, since 1968 . The couple have a daughter.


Independently of Temin, Baltimore discovered the enzyme reverse transcriptase , which converts ribonucleic acid (RNA) into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). RNA and DNA play an important role in the synthesis of proteins and the transmission of genetic material. The reverse transcriptase is essential for the reproduction of so-called retroviruses such as the AIDS virus and plays an important role in genetic engineering.

In 1981 he and his colleague Vincent Racaniello built the genome of the poliovirus into a mammalian cell using a plasmid , so that the virus reproduced there.

The " Baltimore classification " of viruses goes back to David Baltimore .

In 2012, Baltimore, Alejandro Balasz and others were part of a team that developed a new vaccination strategy against AIDS using methods of gene therapy (Vector Immuno Prophylaxis, IVP). The vaccine bypasses the production of antibodies by the body's own immune system (which is attacked by the HIV virus); the genes for the desired antibodies are built directly into cells in the body. Baltimore tested the principle by incorporating genes for the antibodies b12, VRC01 against AIDS into muscle cells of mice, which effectively protected them against AIDS.

Honors, prizes and memberships (selection)


Web links

Commons : David Baltimore  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found the counterfeit allegations confirmed based on intelligence analyzes of the laboratory books in 1994, but the US Department of Health came to the opposite conclusion only one year later and saw no evidence of counterfeiting. Baltimore itself has never been charged with scientific misconduct. Daniel Kevles wrote the book The Baltimore Case , Norton 1998, and the mathematician Serge Lang wrote about it. David Baltimore himself also published a statement in 2003 ( memento of the original from July 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.issues.org
  2. It wasn't the only affair that affected Baltimore's co-authors. In 2007, Caltech also investigated allegations of counterfeiting against Luk van Parijs (also at the instigation of Baltimore itself). Van Parijs had also published several papers with Baltimore, and the investigation revealed that four joint papers would have to be corrected due to its forgeries.
  3. Alejandro B. Balazs, Joyce Chen et al. a .: Antibody-based protection against HIV infection by vectored immunoprophylaxis. In: Nature. 481, 2011, pp. 81-84, doi: 10.1038 / nature10660 .
  4. a b c http://www.aai.org/About/History/Notable-Members/Nobel-Laureates/DavidBaltimore
  5. ^ Member History: David Baltimore. American Philosophical Society, accessed April 18, 2018 (with a short biography).