Renato Dulbecco

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Dulbecco, Renato

(rənät`ō dŭlbĕk`ō), 1914–2012, Italian-American virologist, b. Catanzaro, Italy. In 1947 he came to the United States to work with Salvador LuriaLuria, Salvador Edward,
1912–1991, American physician, b. Turin, Italy, M.D., Univ. of Turin, 1935. He conducted research and taught at the Institute of Radium in Paris (1938–40), Columbia (1940–42), Indiana Univ. (1943–50), and the Univ.
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 at Indiana Univ. in Bloomington, moving to the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1949. He became a U.S. citizen in 1953. In 1963 he was a founding fellow of the Salk Institute for Biological Research, San Diego. From 1972 to 1977 he was a deputy director at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, England; he then returned to the Salk Institute and later served (1988–92) as its president.

In the 1950s he and co-researcher Marguerite Vogt gained insight into how viruses infect cells by pioneering the technique of growing viruses in culture. Their studies with poliovirus contributed to the development of the SabinSabin, Albert Bruce
, 1906–93, American physician and microbiologist, b. Bialystock, Russia, grad. New York Univ. (B.S., 1928; M.D., 1931). He emigrated to the United States in 1921 and was naturalized in 1930.
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, or live-virus, vaccine, and they also described how a virus can convert a normal cell into a cancerous one. For his work in which he verified that cells that had been transformed into cancer cells had had their DNA altered by a virus, he shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Howard M. TeminTemin, Howard Martin,
1934–94, American virologist, b. Philadelphia, Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 1959. A professor at the Univ. of Wisconsin in Madison, Temin began his cancer research while still a student, working with his professor Renato Dulbecco and
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 and David BaltimoreBaltimore, David
, 1938–, American microbiologist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Rockefeller Univ., 1964. He conducted (1965–68) virology research at the Salk Institute before becoming a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972.
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, two of his former students. In subsequent research focused on breast cancer, Dulbecco pioneered a method for using monoclonal antibodiesmonoclonal antibody,
an antibody that is mass produced in the laboratory from a single clone and that recognizes only one antigen. Monoclonal antibodies are typically made by fusing a normally short-lived, antibody-producing B cell (see immunity) to a fast-growing cell, such as
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 to identify cancer cells by their unique surface proteins, which also contributed to the development of anticancer therapies. In 1986 he first proposed what became the Human Genome ProjectHuman Genome Project,
international scientific effort to map all of the genes on the 23 pairs of human chromosomes and, to sequence the 3.1 billion DNA base pairs that make up the chromosomes (see nucleic acid).
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 when he called for sequencing and cataloging all human genes to aid in cancer research.

Dulbecco, Renato


Born Feb. 22, 1914, in Catanzaro, Italy. American virologist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1974) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; foreign member of the Royal Society and Nazionale Academia dei Lincei.

Dulbecco graduated from the University of Turin in 1936 and taught histology and embryology there from 1942. He emigrated to the United States in 1947. He was professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology from 1952 to 1963 and worked in the Salk Institute of Biological Studies in San Diego, Calif., from 1963 to 1971. In 1971 he moved to London to work in the laboratory of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He became deputy director of research at the fund in 1974.

Dulbecco’s main works have dealt with tumor-forming DNA-containing viruses. He developed techniques for transforming cells in tissue culture that are now widely used to study tumor-forming DNA-containing viruses. Another major discovery of Dulbecco’s is that the genome of a tumor-forming DNA-containing virus is incorporated into the genetic material of the cell, a phenomenon that causes a normal cell to become malignant.

In 1975, Dulbecco shared a Nobel Prize with H. Temin and D. Baltimore.

Dulbecco, Renato

(1914–  ) virologist; born in Catanzaro, Italy. He performed research at Turin (1940–47), then came to the U.S.A. as a bacteriologist at the University of Indiana (1947–49), where he worked with his former Turin colleague Salvador Luria on bacterial viruses. He moved to the California Institute of Technology (1949–63) at the invitation of Max Delbrück, under whose direction Dulbecco conducted research on polioviruses that contributed to the development of a polio vaccine. In the early 1950s he began studies of mammalian tumor viruses. His discoveries of virus-induced cell transformation led to the discovery of the enzyme RNA transcriptase by his students Howard Temin and David Baltimore. Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology with Temin and Baltimore for his contribution to the study of cellular changes due to cancer-inducing viruses. Dulbecco joined the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1963–72), relocated to London to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (1972–77), became a professor at the University of California: San Diego (1977–81), then returned to the Salk Institute (1977), of which he became president (1988).