In 2006 David Baltimore was appointed President Emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology after having served as its president for nine years. He is one of the world's most influential biologists. Awarded the Nobel Prize at the age of 37 for research in virology, Baltimore has profoundly influenced national science policy on such issues as recombinant DNA research and the AIDS epidemic. He is an accomplished researcher, educator, administrator and public advocate for science and engineering.
Born in New York City, Baltimore became interested in biology during high school when he spent a summer at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory and worked with research biologists on mammalian genetics. He received his B.A. in Chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in 1964 from Rockefeller University, where he returned to serve as President from 1990-91 and faculty member until 1994.
For almost 30 years, Baltimore was a faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where his early investigations examined the molecular processes underlying the ability of poliovirus to infect cells. This led him to work on other RNA viruses and then to a consideration how cancer-causing RNA viruses manage to infect and permanently alter a healthy cell. He identified the enzyme reverse transcriptase, thus providing strong evidence for a process of RNA to DNA conversion, the existence of which had been hypothesized some years earlier. Baltimore and Howard Temin (with Renato Dulbecco, for related research) shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery, which has greatly expanded scientists' understanding of retroviruses such as HIV. He has contributed widely to the understanding of cancer, AIDS and the molecular basis of the immune response.
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 the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT from 1982 until 1990. An early advocate of federal AIDS research, Baltimore co-chaired the 1986 National Academy of Sciences committee on a National Strategy for AIDS and was appointed in 1996 to head the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee. He is a member of the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Baltimore 's numerous honors include the 1970 Gustave Stern Award in Virology, 1971 Eli Lilly and Co. Award in Microbiology and Immunology, 1999 National Medal of Science, and 2000 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974, and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign member of both the Royal Society of London and the French Academy of Sciences. In 2006 he will serve as President-Elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he will be President in 2007. He has published more than 600 peer-reviewed articles.