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Interview with David Baltimore

Baltimore, David (2010) Interview with David Baltimore. [Oral History]

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Interview in three sessions, October-November 2009, with David Baltimore, Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology and president emeritus of Caltech (1997-2006). He recalls his childhood and early education in Great Neck, NY, his aptitude for science, and a summer at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine (1955), which confirmed his vocation. He discusses interest in molecular biology at Swarthmore (B.A. 1960); 1959 summer at Cold Spring Harbor with G. Streisinger; meeting S. Luria and C. Levinthal; graduate work at MIT and Rockefeller (PhD 1964); 1961 summer at Albert Einstein College of Medicine; postdoc at MIT with J. Darnell and Einstein with J. Hurwitz. Recalls his discovery of polio polymerase and demonstration that RNA chains initiate with a triphosphate. In 1965 he is invited to join Salk Institute by R. Dulbecco; returns to MIT as associate professor in 1968. Recalls his 1970 discovery of reverse transcriptase and copublication with H. Temin; 1975 Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA; 1975 Nobel Prize with Temin and Dulbecco; founding of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; National Academy of Sciences committee on national strategy for AIDS. Comments briefly on investigation of T. Imanishi-Kari for fraud and his return to MIT from Rockefeller University in 1994. He discusses vetting process for Caltech presidency, his 1998 inauguration, and highlights of his presidency, including purchase of St. Luke's Medical Center, $1.4 billion capital campaign, and building Broad Center for the Biological Sciences. Comments on Caltech architecture, including Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics; receiving National Medal of Science in 2000; L. Van Parijs dismissal from MIT and prior work in Baltimore's lab; and the prospects for human enhancement and understanding of consciousness.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Biology, microbiology, medicine, virology, Nobel Prize, Caltech administration
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Baltimore_D
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Baltimore, David. Interview by Sara Lippincott. Pasadena, California, October 13, November 19 and 25, 2009. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Biology
Subjects > Administration
ID Code:168
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:09 Nov 2010
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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