David Baltimore is a biologist from the United States who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1975. As a scientist, he has made a lot of important discoveries in immunology, virology, cancer research, biotechnology, and recombinant DNA research. He was president of both Rockefeller University and the California Institute of Technology at different times. When he was in high school, he spent a summer at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor. This made him interested in biology. He chose biology as his college major because of this. But he soon switched to chemistry and got his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College. After that, he went to the Rockefeller Institute to study animal virology (now Rockefeller University). He started graduate school in biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, he took a course on animal virology at Cold Spring Harbor, which was taught at the time by Drs. Richard Franklin and Edward Simon. After that, he went to work in Franklin’s lab at the Rockefeller Institute, where he did some of the first research on animal viruses. Later in his career, he found out on his own about reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that makes DNA from RNA, and did research on how viruses interact with a cell’s DNA. Together with the work of Howard M. Temin and Renato Dulbecco, his research helped people understand how viruses can cause cancer.
Early years and childhood
David Baltimore was born in New York City on March 7, 1938. Gertrude Lipschitz, his mother, was an atheist, while Richard Baltimore, his father, was raised as an Orthodox Jew. Like his father, David followed Jewish rules.
In 1956, he got out of Great Neck High School. He went to the Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program in Bar Harbor, Maine, when he was in high school. This sparked his interest in biology.
At first, he wanted to study biology in college, but then he changed his mind. In 1960, he went to Swarthmore College and got a Bachelor of Arts with honors. During college, he spent a summer working with Dr. George Streisinger at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. This gave the young man the idea to study molecular biology.
He went to graduate school in biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but soon became interested in animal virology instead. He then went to Cold Spring Harbor to take a course on animal viruses taught by Dr. Richard Franklin and Dr. Edward Simon.
He learned a lot from Franklin, with whom he worked on his thesis at the Rockefeller Institute. In 1964, he got his doctorate.
He also spent some time at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine studying enzymology with Dr. Jerard Hurwitz.
David Baltimore’s Career
In 1965, he got a job as a Research Associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. There, he worked with Dr. Renato Dulbecco and did important research on how the poliovirus copies itself.
Together with his colleagues, he found out how viral polyprotein precursors are broken down by proteolysis and showed how important proteolysis is in making eukaryotic proteins. One of his most important discoveries was that the poliovirus made its proteins as a single large polyprotein that was then broken down into smaller proteins with specific functions.
In 1968, he joined the Department of Biology at MIT as an Associate Professor of Microbiology. Alice S. Huang, who had worked with him at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, also went to MIT, and the two of them worked on the vesicular stomatitis virus together (VSV).
During their work, Baltimore and Huang showed that VSV, an RNA virus, copied itself with the help of a strange enzyme called an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. This enzyme copies RNA without using DNA. In the end, they got married.
In 1972, MIT gave Baltimore a permanent position as a Professor of Biology, which he held until 1997. In 1973, he also became a professor of microbiology for the American Cancer Society.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Baltimore worked on the Rauscher murine leukemia virus and the Rous sarcoma virus, which are both RNA tumor viruses. Through his experiments, he found reverse transcriptase.
In 1983, Baltimore took over as head of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge. In 1990, he became the sixth President of Rockefeller University in New York City. This was after he had been there for a few years.
He was named president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1997. He left that job in 2005.
In 2005, he joined the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Board of Advisors. In 2006, he was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for three years (AAAS).
Works of note
In 1970, David Baltimore took an enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT) from two RNA tumor viruses called R-MLV and RSV. This enzyme is used to make complementary DNA (cDNA). It is mostly used by retroviruses, but RT is also used by some viruses that aren’t old.
He came up with a way to group viruses into families based on their type of genome (DNA, RNA, single-stranded (ss), double-stranded (ds), etc.) and how they copy themselves. This is now called the Baltimore classification.
Awards & Achievements
In 1974, he was given the NAS Award in Molecular Biology for his work in virus research and his discoveries about how RNA viruses reproduce and how their enzymes work.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to David Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco, and Howard Martin Temin in 1975 “for their discoveries about how tumor viruses interact with the genetic material of the cell.”
Personal History and Legacies
David Baltimore and Alice Huang got married in October 1968. They had met at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where they both worked. There is one girl in the family. His wife is also a biologist, and she studies viruses and microbes.
Estimated Net worth
David Baltimore’s estimated net worth is $8 million, and his main sources of income are as a microbiologist, virologist, university professor, and doctor. We don’t know enough about David Baltimore’s cars and his way of life.