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2015 Chao Lectureship hosted Nobel laureate

David Baltimore, PhD, Nobel laureate in medicine and president emeritus of the California Institute of Technology
Caltech president emeritus and Nobel laureate David Baltimore, PhD

Leading cancer researcher on the latest in gene therapy

Nobel laureate and DNA pioneer David Baltimore, PhD, was the guest speaker for the 16th annual Allen and Lee-Hwa Chao Lectureship in Cancer Research.

Baltimore, president emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at California Institute of Technology, discussed "Genes as Therapy" at a community lecture on Jan. 28 at the Beckman Center on the UC Irvine campus.

He also gave a scientific lecture on "MicroRNAs and Blood Cell Homeostasis" at Irvine Hall's Nelson Auditorium the following day and met with faculty of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Allen and Lee-Hwa Chao Lectureship in Cancer Research was founded to bring distinguished guest lecturers to speak at the university.

It was established at the UC Irvine Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in honor of Hsi-Hsiung Chao, a UC Irvine benefactor who died in 1999 and the father of Allen Chao, who along with his siblings are also major donors.

The lecture series aspires to enhance perspectives on cancer for clinicians, faculty, researchers, students and the community at large through interesting and thought-provoking lectures by world-renowned leaders in the field of cancer.

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Baltimore revolutionized virology with the discovery of reverse transcriptase, an essential enzyme in the retroviruses that cause cancers and HIV in humans and animals. He re-wrote genetic theory when he proved that information encoded in genes did not have to flow in just one direction — from DNA to RNA.

In 1975, at the age of 37, he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his independent research proving that the reverse transcriptase enzyme could synthesize DNA from RNA.

Over the course of an illustrious career, Baltimore has made seminal contributions in several different fields, including cancer biology, virology and immunology. He has received many honors for his pioneering cancer research including the National Medal of Science in 1999 from President Bill Clinton and the Warren Alpert Foundation Scientific Prize in 2001.

A gifted leader, Baltimore served nearly nine years as president of Caltech and earlier held esteemed positions as director of the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the Rockefeller University.