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Baltimore to head Rockefeller

@ByName:By Reuven M. Lerner

Allegations of fraud have surrounded the biology professor ever since a paper he co-authored appeared in the journal Cell O'Toole claimed that Baltimore was obstructing her attempts to correct errors, and threatened to publish a rebuttal.

On Nov. 18, 1988, Baltimore and his colleagues published a letter of correction in Cell MIT, Tufts University, and the National Institutes of Health soon began investigations to determine whether the errors had been made deliberately. Both the MIT and Tufts committees declared Baltimore innocent of fraud.

The NIH released its report last February. It too found "no evidence of fraud, conscious misrepresentations, or manipulation of data" in the article. The committee attributed the errors to a lack of "understanding and communication."

The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, which had been looking into institutional responses to charges of scientific fraud, became interested in the Baltimore case, and asked the paper's authors to testify in mid-February. Secret Service investigations suggested that dates and data in the scientists' notebooks were changed in several places. Alfred Kildow, a Whitehead spokesman, said that the examinations did not "relate at all to the data in the Cell

paper."

Concern spread among scientists and legislators about the use of outside agencies to monitor fraud in science. An aide to the House subcommittee said, "I'm not sure we're in favor of legislative solutions to the problem. It's in the institutions' best interest to police themselves before the federal government steps in." The investigation also left unclear what junior scientists should do if they disagree with the findings of their superiors.

MIT, Rockefeller consider

Baltimore for presidency

Baltimore was widely considered a candidate to to a replace President Paul E. Gray '54, who announced his resignation last spring. Speculation continued through October, when The Boston Globe Less than one week later, Baltimore put all speculation to an end by accepting the presidency of Rockefeller University in New York City. Baltimore had declined a previous offer from the biomedical research institution, but changed his mind after their Board of Trustees voted unanimously to offer it to him again.

Baltimore described his decision as "very difficult," and added that "the remarkable success of the Whitehead Institute and my own eventful and enormously satisfying career at MIT, now in its 21st year, caused me to think long and hard about this opportunity."

But not everyone was excited about Baltimore's move. Some members of the Rockefeller faculty were upset that they had not been told of the offer before Baltimore had announced his acceptance. Norton D. Zinder, a professor of microbial genetics at Rockefeller, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he thought Baltimore had withdrawn from the search.

Other faculty figures worried that negative publicity would follow Baltimore to Rockefeller.

The last class that Baltimore taught at MIT, AIDS: Scientific Challenge and Human Challenge (7.00/15.60J), discussed the biological and sociological problems associated with the AIDS virus, a subject which Baltimore has spent considerable time researching. Baltimore revealed his opinions on many issues relating to the disease, including his satisfaction with current FDA testing procedures for new AIDS drugs and his concern for teenage girls prostituting themselves in order to buy crack. He warned that a large number of men and women involved in this activity will eventually contract AIDS.

Copyright 1990 by The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, February 6, 1990.
Volume 110, Year in Review
The story was printed on page 7.

This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to archive@the-tech.mit.edu for additional details.

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