Nobel Laureate in
Los Angeles, California -- Nobel Laureate David Baltimore will speak on the topic, "Viruses: The Essence of Life But Sneaky Critters," at California State University, Los Angeles' 18th Annual Leon Pape Memorial Lecture. The presentation, sponsored by the Cal State L.A. Department of Physics and Astronomy, is free to the public and will be held on Friday, April 20, 2001, beginning at 2 p.m. in Physical Sciences, room 158, on the Cal State L.A. campus. Reception will be immediately following the lecture.
David Baltimore is referred to as one of the most influential biologists of his generation. Awarded the Nobel Prize at the age of 37 for his work in virology, he has also had a profound influence on national science policy regarding such issues as recombinant DNA research and the AIDS epidemic. His accomplishments in multiple areas of expertise-as a researcher, educator, administrator, and public advocate for science and engineering-were instrumental in his selection last May as Caltech's sixth president.
Baltimore received his bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in 1960 and his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University in 1964. He subsequently held year-long postdoctoral positions at MIT and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed by a three-year appointment at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. In 1968, he returned to MIT as an associate professor. He was named full professor in 1972.
At MIT, Baltimore's early investigations focused on questions about the relationship between DNA and RNA in a cell's internal functions-specifically, on how cancer-causing RNA viruses manage to infect a healthy cell. One result of this research was the identification of the enzyme reverse transcriptase. The existence of reverse transcriptase had been hypothesized some years earlier, but the theory was considered far-fetched until June 1970, when Baltimore and Caltech alumnus Howard Temin published back-to-back papers about their independent and simultaneous identification of the enzyme. Baltimore and Temin (and former Caltech faculty member Renato Dulbecco, for other virological research) shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery, which has greatly expanded scientists' understanding of retroviruses like HIV.
In addition to his research accomplishments, Baltimore has several outstanding administrative and public policy achievements to his credit. In the mid-1970s, he played an important role in creating a consensus on national science policy regarding recombinant DNA research. He served as founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research from 1982 until 1990. An early advocate of federal AIDS research, Baltimore was appointed in 1996 to head the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee. He was also a professor at Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1994, and Rockefeller's president in 1990-91.
Baltimore's numerous honors include the 1970 Gustave Stern Award in Virology and the 1971 Eli Lilly and Co. Award in Microbiology and Immunology. He is also the 1999 recipient of the President's National Medal of Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974, and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Microbiology. He has published more than 500 peer-reviewed articles.
The lecture series, honoring the late Leon Pape, a member of the Cal State L.A. Physics Department faculty from 1961 to 1971, brings Nobel Prize winners and distinguished experts in the science field to the campus. Past speakers have included Nobel Laureates Rosalyn S. Yalow, William A. Fowler, Linus Pauling, Hans A. Bethe, Leon M. Lederman, Francis H.C. Crick, Walter Kohn and F. Sherwood Rowland. For more information, call the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-2100.
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