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David Baltimore is an American molecular biologist and virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1975 for discovering that retroviruses (a group of viruses that uses RNA to code their genomes instead of DNA) make the enzyme reverse transcriptase, which is used to make DNA copies of RNA templates. This is useful to a retrovirus, which is trying to reproduce by taking over it's host's cellular machinery. More important, this is very useful to molecular biologists and genetic engineers who want to work with RNA molecules using DNA-manipulating techniques.

Baltimore was born Match 7, 1938 in New York City. He got his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Swarthmore College and studied virology as a biophysics graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He transferred to Rockefeller University for his Ph.D., which he completed in 1964. He was Professor of Biology at MIT when he won his Nobel. His other honors include:

  • the 1970 Gustave Stern Award in Virology
  • the 1971 Eli Lilly and Co. Award in Microbiology and Immunology
  • the 1999 National Medal of Science
  • the 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, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Microbiology.

He is currently the president of the California Institute of Technology. His lab there studies signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, cell cycle controls, and and DNA repair processes.

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