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David L. Baltimore (born 7 March 1938) is an American biologist, university administrator, and Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine. He served as president of the California Institute of Technologymarker (Caltech) from 1997 to 2006, and is currently the Robert A. Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech. He also served as president of Rockefeller Universitymarker from 1990 to 1991, and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. As is traditional in the AAAS, he now serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.


Early years

Baltimore was born to Gertrude Lipschitz and Richard Baltimore in New York Citymarker. He graduated from Great Neck High Schoolmarker in 1956, and credits his interest in biology to a high-school summer spent at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. He earned a BA at Swarthmore Collegemarker in 1960, and received his Ph.D. at Rockefeller Universitymarker in 1964. After postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (MIT) and Albert Einstein College of Medicinemarker and a non-faculty research position at the Salk Institutemarker, he joined the MIT faculty in 1968.


In 1975, at the age of 37, he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco. The citation reads, "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell." At the time, Baltimore's greatest contribution to virology was his discovery of reverse transcriptase (RTase or RT). Reverse transcriptase is essential for the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV 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. 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, 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. 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-kB and the recombination activating genes RAG-1 and RAG-2.

Baltimore became president of Rockefeller University in New York City on 1 July, 1990. After resigning on 3 December 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 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' 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 Healthmarker (NIH) AIDS Vaccine Research Committee (AVRC), and numerous other organizations and their boards. He is married to Alice S. Huang.

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, 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 with Thereza Imanishi-Kari (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 NIHmarker, which had funded the contested paper's research, began investigating. Representative John Dingell (D-MI) also aggressively pursued it, eventually calling in U.S. Secret Service (USSS; U.S.marker Treasurymarker) 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 recounts the affair in his 1998 book, The Baltimore Case, while Yale University mathematician Serge Lang strongly criticized Baltimore's behavior. Baltimore has also written his own analysis.


On 13 May 1997, Baltimore was appointed president of the California Institute of Technologymarker (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 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).

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 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 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.

Personal life

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

See also


  1. Nobel Prize autobiography
  2. 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..."
  4. 1996 HHS conclusions vindicating Imanishi-Kari
  5. Weaver D, Reis MH, Albanese C, Costantini F, Baltimore D, and Imanishi-Kari T (1986) Altered repertoire of endogenous immunoglobulin gene expression in transgenic mice containing a rearranged mu heavy chain gene. Cell 45(2): 247-59 (25 April) (PMID 3084104)
  6. "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)
  7. Philip J. Hilts, "Crucial Data Were Fabricated In Report Signed by Top Biologist; Nobel Winner Is Asking That Paper Be Retracted" (New York Times, 21 March 1991, Pp. A1, B10)
  8. Weaver D, Albanese C, Costantini F, and Baltimore D (1991) Retraction: Altered repertoire of endogenous immunoglobulin gene expression in transgenic mice containing a rearranged mu heavy chain gene. Cell 65(4): 536 (17 May) PMID 2032282
  9. Hall, Stephen S. (1991) David Baltimore's Final Days. Science 254(5038): 1576-9 (13 Dec.) PMID 1749930 or here
  10. Natalie Angier, "Embattled Biologist Will Return to M.I.T." (New York Times, 19 May 1992, P. C5)
  11. Malcolm Gladwell, "Prosecutors Halt Scientific Fraud Probe; Researcher Baltimore Claims Vindication, Plans to 'Unretract' Paper" (Washington Post, 14 July 1992, P. A3); Hamilton, D.P. (1992) U.S. attorney decides not to prosecute Imanishi-Kari. Science 257(5068): 318 (17 July) PMID 1321499
  12. 1996 HHS report exonerating Imanishi-Kari
  13. Boston Globe, 1996, "The public skirmish over the reputations of Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor David Baltimore and Tufts University researcher Thereza Imanishi-Kari has been formally ended by a report deeply embarrassing to the government."
  14. Judy Foreman, "Baltimore Speaks Out on Disputed Study in Letter Sent to Colleagues Around the Nation; He Calls for Protection Against ‘threats’ to Scientific Freedom" (Boston Globe, 23 May 1988, P. 31)
  15. 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))
  16. 1989 NYT Magazine "This spectacle of damaged reputation was not just unseemly, but difficult to reconcile with the 51-year-old Baltimore's prominence and achievements."
  17. J. Foreman, "MIT Institute Used Funds Wrongly" (Boston Globe, 17 April 1991, P. 1)
  18. Horace Freeland Judson, The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science (Orlando: Harcourt; 2004)
  19. Daneil Kevles, 1996, abstract of article in New Yorker
  20. Review in Nature 2001
  21. Daniel J. Kevles, The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, Inc.; 1998)
  22. Gunsalus, C.K. (1999) Review of Kevles' "The Baltimore Case..." New England Journal of Medicine 340(3): 242 [21 Jan.]
  23. Lang S. (1993) Questions of Scientific Responsibility: The Baltimore Case. Ethics & Behavior 3(1): 3-72 PMID 11653082
  24. David Baltimore, 1989 (updated 2003)
  25. Caltech Media Relations, "Nobel Prize-winning Biologist David Baltimore Named President of the California Institute of Technology," 13 May 1997 [1] or w/ photos & links; Richard Saltus, "MIT Laureate to Lead Caltech: Baltimore Weathered Data Dispute" (Boston Globe, 14 May 1997, P. A3); 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); unsigned editorial, "A Luminary of Science for Caltech's Presidency; Nobelist Baltimore has the needed background and clout." (LA Times, 15 May 1997, P. B8); R.L. Hotz, "Biomedicine's Bionic Man; Among the Nation's Most Distinguished - and Controversial - Scientists, Caltech's David Baltimore Now Faces the Dual Challenge of Leading a Premier Research University and Vanquishing AIDS." (LA Times Magazine, 28 Sept. 1997, Pp. 10-13, 34-5)
  26. Caltech Media Relations, "New Caltech President To Be Honored with Formal Inauguration, Birthday Festschrift," 23 February 1998 [2]
  27. Bhattacharjee, Y., ed. (2004) The Balance of Justice. Science 304(5679): 1901 (25 June) [3]
  28., "Caltech President Baltimore Announces Retirement," 3 October 2005 & R.L. Hotz, "Caltech President Who Raised School's Profile to Step Down" (LA Times, 4 October 2005, P. A1)
  29. Caltech Media Relations, "Baltimore to Retire as Caltech President; Will Remain at Institute as Biology Professor," 3 October 2005 [4]
  30. Caltech Media Relations, "Caltech Presidential Inauguration - A Student Affair," 30 April 2007 [5]
  31. 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) [6]
  32. Boston Globe, October 29, 2005
  33. Reich, E.S. (2007) Scientific misconduct report still under wraps. New Scientist ?(2361): 16 (24 Nov.)

External links

  • Caltech Biology Division Faculty member page
  • Baltimore Laboratory at Caltech site
  • Autobiography at
  • Initial reports of ribonucleic acid-dependent DNA polymerase activity:
  1. Baltimore D (1970) RNA-dependent DNA polymerase in virions of RNA tumour viruses. Nature Vol. 226, No. 5252, Pp. 1209-11 (27 June).
  2. Temin HM and Mizutani S (1970) RNA-dependent DNA polymerase in virions of Rous sarcoma virus. Nature Vol. 226, No. 5252, Pp. 1211-13 (27 June). PMID 4316301
  • 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).

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