Howard Martin Temin

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Temin, 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 DulbeccoDulbecco, Renato
, 1914–2012, Italian-American virologist, b. Catanzaro, Italy. In 1947 he came to the United States to work with Salvador Luria at Indiana Univ. in Bloomington, moving to the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1949. He became a U.S.
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 and fellow student 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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. In 1970 Temin and Baltimore independently verified Temin's hypothesis that RNA viruses could affect the DNA of cells, transforming them into cancer cells. For this discovery they shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dulbecco.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Temin, Howard Martin


Born Dec. 10, 1934, in Philadelphia. American virologist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences; fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Temin graduated from Swarthmore College in 1955 and received a Ph.D. in 1959 from the California Institute of Technology. Since 1969 he has been a professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Temin’s chief works deal with RNA-containing oncogenic viruses. He advanced the theory of the provirus, which presupposes the transfer of genetic information from RNA to DNA. According to the central tenet of molecular biology, which states that genetic information is transferred in only one direction (DNA → RNA → protein), Temin’s theory is untenable. In 1970, Temin discovered that an ingredient of oncogenic viruses is the enzyme revertase, which ensures reverse transcription; a similar discovery was made independently and simultaneously by the American microbiologist D. Baltimore. Temin thus established that the inclusion of viral genomes in the cell genotype is a universal mechanism of the interaction of oncogenic viruses—both RNA- and DNA-containing—with the cell; this phenomenon causes normal cells to become cancer cells. Temin was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1975 together with D. Baltimore and R. Dulbecco.


“RNK napravliaet sintez DNK.” Priroda, 1975, no. 9.
“RNA-dependent DNA Polymerase in Virions of Rous Sarcoma Virus.” Nature, 1970, vol. 226. (With S. Mizutani.)
“Cellular and Molecular Biology of RNA Tumor Viruses, Especially Avian Leukosis-Sarcoma Virus, and Their Relatives.” Advancesin Cancer Research, 1974, vol. 19.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.