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David Baltimore

David Baltimore (b. March 7, 1938) is an American biologist and co-recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is currently the Robert A. Millikan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was president from 1997 to 2006. He is also currently the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Baltimore was born in New York City and graduated from Great Neck High School in 1956.[1] He earned a BA from Swarthmore College in 1960, and received his Ph.D. at Rockefeller University in 1964. At the age of 37, while on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faculty, he shared the Nobel Prize with Howard Temin for the discovery of reverse transcriptase (RTase). Baltimore and Temin worked independently of each other yet discovered RTase at the same time [2]. RTase is essential for the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV.

Also while at MIT, Baltimore was founding director of the Whitehead Institute and an organizer of the 1975 Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA.

Baltimore has had profound influence on national policy concerning recombinant DNA research and the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Baltimore is a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Board of Sponsors, Encyclopædia Britannica editorial board, National Academy of Sciences USA (NAS), NAS Institute of Medicine, Amgen, Inc. Board of Directors, NIH AIDS vaccine task force, and numerous other organizations and their boards. He is married to Dr. Alice S. Huang.


Imanishi-Kari Case

For most people outside of science, Baltimore is best known for his role in an affair of alleged scientific misconduct. In 1986, Professor of Biology, MIT & Director, Whitehead Institute Baltimore co-authored a scientific paper on immunology with Assistant Professor of Biology, MIT Thereza Imanishi-Kari and four others. [3] A postdoctoral fellow in Imanishi-Kari's laboratory, Dr. Margot O'Toole, who was not an author, could not reproduce some of the experiments in the paper and discovered laboratory data that contradicted the published data. O'Toole then challenged the authors to explain the discrepancies and ultimately accused Imanishi-Kari of fabricating data in a cover-up. Baltimore initially refused to retract the paper, although he did later with three co-authors (Imanishi-Kari and Moema H. Reis did not sign the retraction).[4] Although O'Toole soon dropped her challenge, Walter W. Stewart and Ned Feder, National Institutes of Health (NIH; Health & Human Services (HHS), U.S. Federal Government) scientists, picked it up. Because they and the authors also could not resolve the challenge, NIH, which had funded the contested paper's research, began investigating. It was then also taken up in the United States Congress by Representative John Dingell (D-MI) who aggressively pursued it, eventually calling in U.S. Secret Service (USSS; U.S. Treasury) document examiners. The House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, chaired by Mr. Dingell, held four hearings analyzing the case.[5] In a draft report dated 14 March 1991 and based mainly on USSS forensics findings, NIH's fraud unit, then called the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), accused Dr. Imanishi-Kari of falsifying and fabricating data both in the paper and, in a cover-up later, in notebooks. It also harshly criticized Baltimore for failing to embrace O'Toole's challenge. After the report was soon leaked to the press, Baltimore stated he would retract the paper.[6]

The ensuing controversy/uproar was remarkable. It included Baltimore's both apologizing publicly and, later, endorsing strongly the paper publicly (i.e., retracting his retraction). The Rockefeller University faculty subsequently pressured President Baltimore to resign December 1991, after only 1.5 years in the office (term began 1 July 1990). 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. Baltimore then declared he would publish a retraction of his retraction.[7] (No withdrawal of the retraction has appeared in Cell.) An extensive file/analysis of the case assembled/written by Yale University mathematician Serge Lang entitled, "Questions of Scientific Responsibility: The Baltimore Case"[8] was published in 1993. 26 October 1994 OSI's successor, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI, HHS) reviewed the case and found Imanishi-Kari guilty on 19 counts of research misconduct; it recommended she be barred from receiving HHS research grants for 10 years. In June 1996, a HHS appeals panel reviewed the case again and dismissed all charges. Neither OSI nor ORI ever accused Baltimore of research misconduct. Baltimore has been both admired for defending a junior faculty member at great personal and professional cost and criticized for failing to be a responsible scientist. Daniel Kevles' book, The Baltimore Case[9] recounts the affair but is sympathetic to Baltimore and Imanishi-Kari. For a different perspective, see Lang's study (also reprinted updated in his book, Challenges[10]) and/or Horace Freeland Judson's book, The Great Betrayal[11].

Despite the controversy, President William Jefferson Clinton awarded Baltimore the National Medal of Science in 1999 for his numerous contributions to the scientific world.

CIT Resignation

3 October 2005 Baltimore resigned the office of the president of California Institute of Technology (CIT/Caltech) for not very specific reasons (reported by Los Angeles Times[12] only). "'This is not a decision that I have made easily,' Baltimore announced to the Caltech trustees, faculty, staff, and students, '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...'"[13]


  1. ^ Kerr, Kathleen. "They Began Here", Newsday. Accessed October 23, 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..."
  2. ^ Judson, Horace. "No Nobel Prize for Whining", New York Times, 2003-10-20. Retrieved on 2007-08-03. 
  3. ^ 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]
  4. ^ 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]
  5. ^ "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 Dr. R. Gallo's NIH lab)
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Malcolm Gladwell, "Prosecutors Halt Scientific Fraud Probe; Researcher Baltimore Claims Vindication, Plans to 'Unretract' Paper" (Washington Post, 14 July 1992, Pp. A3, )
  8. ^ Lang S (1993) Questions of Scientific Responsibility: The Baltimore Case. Ethics & Behavior 3(1): 3-72
  9. ^ Daniel J. Kevles, The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, Inc.; 1998)
  10. ^ Serge Lang, Challenges (New York: Springer-Verlag; 1997) Book also includes Lang's analysis of the obstructions to publishing "...Scientific Responsibility": "Questions of Editorial Responsibility: Publication of the Baltimore Article," pp. 341-60.
  11. ^ Horace Freeland Judson, The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science (Orlando: Harcourt; 2004)
  12. ^, "Caltech President Baltimore Announces Retirement," 3 October 2005 & LA Times, "Caltech President Who Raised School's Profile to Step Down," 4 October 2005
  13. ^ Caltech Press Release, "Baltimore to Retire as Caltech President; Will Remain at Institute as Biology Professor," 3 October 2005 [1]

See also

  • Other books discussing Baltimore and/or the Baltimore Affair/Imanishi-Kari Case
    • Marcel C. LaFollette, Stealing into Print: Fraud, Plagiarism, and Misconduct in Scientific Publishing (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press; 1992)
    • Robert Bell, Impure Science: Fraud, Compromise, and Political Influence in Scientific Research (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 1992)
    • Judy Sarasohn, Science on Trial: The Whistle-blower, the Accused, and the Nobel Laureate (New York: St. Martin's Press; 1993) - Book entirely devoted to Baltimore Affair
    • Donald Kennedy, Academic Duty (Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press; 1997)
    • Shane Crotty, Ahead of the Curve: David Baltimore's Life in Science (Berkeley: University of California Press; 2001)
  • Baltimore classification
  • 73079 Davidbaltimore
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Eugene Everhart
President of the California Institute of Technology
Succeeded by
Jean-Lou Chameau
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "David_Baltimore". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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