David Baltimore

American biologist

David Baltimore (born March 7, 1938) is an American molecular biologist, 1975 Nobel prize winner, and professor at Caltech. He is famous for the discovery of reverse transcriptase (which changed the scientific view of cancer), contributions to the identification of HIV, and the Baltimore classification.

David Baltimore (2013)


  • Two independent groups of investigators have found evidence of an enzyme in virions of RNA tumour viruses which synthesizes DNA from an RNA template. This discovery, if upheld, will have important implications not only for carcinogenesis by RNA viruses but also for the general understanding of genetic transcription: apparently the classical process of information transfer from DNA to RNA can be inverted.
    • (1970). "Viral RNA-dependent DNA Polymerase: RNA-dependent DNA Polymerase in Virions of RNA Tumour Viruses". Nature 226 (5252): 1209–1211. DOI:10.1038/2261209a0.
  • The world of animal viruses appears to offer an unfathomable diversity of specimens, but, as the molecular biology of the replication of many viruses has been studied, a pattern of behavior has emerged. The viruses can be divided into classes, each of which has its own method of transmitting its genetic information from one generation to the next and its own style of expressing its genetic information. Although in some cases the data are still fragmentary, it is possible to outline the behavior of these systems and to place them in a formal scheme.
  • This milestone of biology's megaproject is the long-promised draft DNA sequence from the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (the public project). The sequence itself is available to all those connected to the Internet … In the paper in this issue, we are presented with a description of the strategy used to decipher the structures of the huge DNA molecules that constitute the genome, and with analyses of the content encoded in the genome. It is the achievement of a coordinated effort involving 20 laboratories and hundreds of people around the world. It reflects the scientific community at its best: working collaboratively, pooling its resources and skills, keeping its focus on the goal, and making its results available to all as they were acquired.

Quotes about Baltimore

  • The prominence of Watson and Crick and the Phage Group made Baltimore all the more desperate to do some real experimental biology. During the spring of his junior year, Baltimore became president of the Biology Club and enrolled in a microbiology seminar that discussed the advances of Luria, Delbrück, Lederberg, and others. But he was sick of just talking about biology. He had understood very quickly that designing and completing experiments were the accomplishments that make a biologist; gathering an encyclopedia knowledge of facts simply makes a good student.
  • Viral genomes must make mRNA that can be read by host ribosomes ... David Baltimore (Nobel laureate) used this insight to describe a simple way to think about virus genomes ... The original Baltimore scheme missed one genome type: the gapped DNA of the Hepadnaviridae ...
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