PASADENA-David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, has been named by President Clinton as a recipient of the 1999 National Medal of Science. The award was announced today (Monday, January 31) at the White House.
One of the world's leading scientists, Baltimore was cited for his Nobel Prize-winning work showing that the flow of biological information is reversed, allowing cancer-inducing viruses to become genes in cells. Baltimore was also recognized for his leadership in academic and public policy. He joins 11 others this year as winners of America's most prestigious science honor.
Prior to his appointment as Caltech president in 1997, Baltimore was a faculty member at MIT and was founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He served as director from the institute's creation in 1982, to 1990, when he became president of Rockefeller University.
He played a pivotal role with Paul Berg, Maxine Singer, and several other eminent biologists in the mid-1970s in creating a consensus on national science policy regarding recombinant DNA research. This nationwide effort helped allay reservations about genetics research, and also established research standards that are followed by the genetics community to this day.
Baltimore has also been a major figure in Washington as head of the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee, and in 1986 he was co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine's committee on a National Strategy for AIDS.
Born in New York City in 1938, Baltimore earned his undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and his doctorate at Rockefeller University. He did postdoctoral work at MIT, and later worked as a research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1965 to 1968.
He was a professor at Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1994, and Rockefeller's president in 1990 and 1991. He resigned the Rockefeller presidency in 1991 during a heated controversy that stemmed from his support of a collaborator who had been accused of scientific misconduct but whose scientific honesty he had resolutely defended. Years later, the collaborator was found to be innocent of all charges raised against her.
His honors include the 1970 Gustave Stern Award in Virology; the 1971 Eli Lilly and Co. Award in Microbiology and Immunology; the 1974 National Academy of Sciences' United States Steel Award in Molecular Biology; and the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
He was named to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974, and in 1978 was elected a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a foreign member of the Royal Society in England, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.
He is married to Dr. Alice Huang, former dean for science at New York University, senior councilor for external relations at Caltech, and also an eminent biologist. The Baltimores have a daughter, Lauren, a Yale University graduate who lives and works in New York City.