Prof. Renato Dulbecco, Nobel Prize of Physiology or Medicine 1975, former Member of the IRB Scientific Advisory Board passed away
on Monday, February 20, 2012
It is with profound regrets that the IRB got to know that Prof. Renato Dulbecco passed away. Besides being a famous scientist, Prof. Dulbecco was a former Member of the IRB Scientific Advisory Board.
Prof. Dulbecco together with Prof. Temin and Prof. Baltimore was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1975. Dulbecco’s discoveries have fundamentally contributed to understand the molecular mechanisms of the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. He demonstrated that normal cells can transform into cancer cells upon infection with certain types of viruses, the oncoviruses. This transformation process is mediated by an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which permits the insertion of viral genes into the chromosomes of the infected cells. This finding was one of the first clues to the genetic nature of certain cancers. Later on, he focused his researches on breast cancer using monoclonal antibodies and molecular biology tools trying to characterize breast normal versus tumor cells. He was president of the Salk Institute (San Diego, California) from 1988 to 1993.
Prof. Dulbecco was also amongst the researchers who launched the idea of studying all human genes at the basis of the worldwide Human Genome Project.
The IRB personnel expresses its deepest condolences to his family.