Ahead of the Curve
David Baltimore's Life in Science
Publication Year: 2001
Basing his narrative on many personal interviews, Crotty recounts the milestones of Baltimore's career: completing his Ph.D. at Rockefeller University in eighteen months, participating in the anti—Vietnam War movement, winning a Nobel Prize at age thirty-seven for the codiscovery of reverse transcriptase, and co-organizing the recombinant DNA/genetic engineering moratorium. Along the way, readers learn what viruses are and what they do, what cancer is and how it happens, the complexities of the AIDS problem, how genetic engineering works, and why making a vaccine is a complicated process. And, as Crotty considers Baltimore's public life, he retells the famous scientific fraud saga and Baltimore's vindication after a decade of character assassination.
Crotty possesses the alchemical skill of converting technical scientific history into entertaining prose as he conveys Baltimore's huge ambitions, intensity, scientific genius, attitude toward science and politics, and Baltimore's own view about what happened in the "Baltimore Affair." Ahead of the Curve shows why with his complex personality, keen involvement in public issues, and wide-ranging interests David Baltimore has not only shaped the face of American science as we know it today, but has also become a presence in our culture.
Published by: University of California Press
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TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
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It has to do with the understanding I getfrom science. And some ofthat understanding, ljel, leads me, has led me, to more actirism as a role. I mean, you can take a piece of information, andyou can do lots ofthings with it. You can ty to publish it;you can tty to dewlop a practical aspect fit, like a therapy, or a machine; orj70u can look at ...
ONE: GREAT NECK, LONG ISLAND
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No one has et isolated the circumstances that help a child grow whole GREAT NECK WAS ONE of the many commutervilles lining the route of the Long Island Railroad in the years following World War 11. This sleepy lit- tle New York town had become famous up and down Long Island for its excellent schools. Everyone at Great Neck High School was expected to go ...
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Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence.? SWARTHMORE COLLEGE IS SNUGGLED in a quaint town outside Philadel- phia. When Baltimore arrived, the streets were narrow and wooded, and the few small bridges were made of stone. The thousand students referred to the town beyond the college as "the Village" or simply "the Vil." The ...
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THE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF molecular biology made the late 1950s both a great time and a chaotic time to become an apprentice molecular biolo- gist. Baltimore could get involved in molecular biology immediately, but The MIT graduate program in biology was rigidly structured, requiring students to learn oceans of knowledge during their first year in a series of ...
FOUR: SALK INSTITUTE
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DAVID AND SANDRA DROVE out to California in his white Valiant. Spring 1965 was the height of the popularity of the Beach Boys and surfing in south- ern California. La Jolla, home of the Salk Institute, was a wealthy town on the coast, full of Mercedes Benzes, jewelry stores, and art galleries. It has only one season-spring. The Salk was a mile north of town, near the Uni- ...
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LANDING BACK ON THE EAST COAST was a relief to Baltimore. He felt he was there to stay. He and Alice went apartment hunting together in the snowy Cambridge neisghborhoods around Inman Square, Central Square, and Harvard Square. They picked a small flat on Soden Street, not too far from the MIT campus, and settled in together. Eight months later, they ...
SIX: RECOMBINANT DNA
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But eifter that, well, the last ten years have surprised us enormously.JANUARY 1971. THE MAIN building of the Stanford University School ofMedicine was the ugliest building on campus. The beautiful central quadwas a spacious collection of buildings laid out like a vast Spanish villa, allcoordinated with terracotta roofs, fine murals, intricate stone carvings, and...
SEVEN: NOBEL GOLD
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It's about time the scientists began to throw all their goddamned shit IN THE FALL OF 1975, BALTIMORE was starting his year-long sabbatical at Rockefeller University, working with Jim Darnell. He needed a break from MIT, and he wanted to be near his parents in New York. His father had had his first heart attack that summer and was in and out of Mt. Sinai Hos- ...
POLIOVIRUS: AN INTERLUDE
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ONCE THE CAMBRIDGE BAN on recombinant DNA was lifted, one of the first pieces of DNA that the Baltimore laboratory cloned was the poliovirus genome. This work was done by Vincent Racaniello, a postdoctoral fel- low in the lab. Since poliovirus is an RNA virus, Racaniello first made a DNA copy (cDNA) of the poliovirus RNA using reverse transcriptase. He ...
EIGHT: WHITEHEAD INSTITUTE
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EDWIN "JACK" WHITEHEAD started a biomedical company called Tech- nicon in 1939. Over the next forty years he led the company to success, and he sold Technicon to Revlon for $400 million in 1980. Whitehead, an en- ergetic and persistent man, wanted to use some of his wealth to found a biomedical institute, and in 1974, with the help of his advisers, he began ...
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...whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; . . . who errs, and comes up short agaln and agaln . . . who at best knows in the end BY 1989 ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY'S president, the indomitable Nobel lau- reate Joshua Lederberg, was approaching the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. The Rockefeller trustees were hunting for a suitable re- ...
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BALTIMORE'S RETURN TO the MIT biology department was heralded as a homecoming. Some MIT researchers wondered why he didn't return to the Whitehead. That had been an option, but the biology department made him a lucrative offer, funded through a multimillion-dollar donation by Ivan Cottrell, a wealthy Rochester dentist. The Whitehead Institute was ...
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IN A MOVE THAT SURPRISED even his close friends, Baltimore accepted the presidency of Caltech, the California Institute ofTechnology effective fall 1997. Paul Berg said incredulously, "I was sure he was not going to take it. . . . He kept telling me about how much he would miss Boston, how much he liked Boston, and how MIT was pulling out all stops to keep him." ...
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In writing this biography I depended on a wide variety of primary and sec- ondary sources. I conducted a series of interviews with David Baltimore between 1994 and 1998. I am indebted to a number of other people for par- ticipating in interviews, including Paul Berg, Thereza Imanishi-Kari, James Darnell, Irving Weissman, Robert Baltimore, Maurice Fox, Marc Girard, ...
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...is standing thirdfrom the right. C. C. Little, who ran the labora tory, is standing on the far right. (Courtesy Jackson Laboratory)David andfriends at Swarthmore, circa I957. (Courtesy David Baltimore)David with Swarthmore girlfriend Kay Senegas, behind his parents' house inDavid with Berwind Kaufmann at the Cold Spring Harbor electron microscope, sum ...
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...2 "The AIDS epidemic has rolled back'? Edmund White, States ofDesire: Travels in Gay But now, through his involvement with theAIDS committee: Interview with David Bal- He currently has onegraduate student studying HIV G. Nabel and D. Baltimore, "An Inducible Transcription Factor Activates Expression of Human Immunodeficiency "My l@ is dedicated': Frank Magill, ed., The NobelPrize Winners: Physiology or Med- ...
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Production Notes, Back Cover
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Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2001