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For further information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at comm@mbl.edu

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2009
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

David Baltimore
Photo credit: Bob Paz

Nobel Laureate David Baltimore to Speak at the MBL on Discoveries in Immunology Research

Lecture is part of the annual Colloquium on the Biology of Aging

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, President Emeritus and Robert A. Millikan Professor of Biology at California Institute of Technology, will discuss recent discoveries about the immune and inflammatory responses at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 4. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Lillie Auditorium, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole.

Baltimore will be at the MBL as part of the Colloquium on the Biology of Aging, which runs August 3-5. The colloquium presents the latest basic research on lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities, and is sponsored by The Ellison Medical Foundation and the MBL.

Baltimore’s talk is entitled “MicroRNAs as Players in Immune and Inflammatory Responses." According to Baltimore, “Decades of research went into understanding immune cell development and function without awareness that consideration of a key element, microRNA, was absent.” His laboratory was the first in the world to report on the unexpected, important roles of microRNAs (short pieces of RNA that regulate gene function) in the immune and inflammatory responses. “MicroRNAs are very likely to play a role in aging, and that possibility is under investigation,” he says.

Baltimore is delivering the 2nd Annual Joshua Lederberg Lecture at this year’s colloquium. Lederberg, who died last year, was also a Nobel Laureate and was founding chair of the Ellison Medical Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.

“Joshua Lederberg was one of the towering intellects of the 20th century,” Baltimore says. “He was always interested in the new, new thing. Thus, microRNAs probably fascinated him because an important role in cellular physiology for short RNA molecules was so unlikely.”

Baltimore was awarded the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell.” Baltimore discovered reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that is essential for the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV. He is a former faculty member in the MBL Physiology Course and former MBL Corporation member. Lederberg performed research at the MBL and was a Corporation Member for more than 50 years.

The Ellison Medical Foundation (http://www.ellisonfoundation.org/index.jsp) supports basic biological research in aging relevant to understanding aging processes and age-related diseases. The Foundation particularly wishes to stimulate new, creative, research that might not be funded by traditional sources or that is often under-funded in the U.S.

Detailed information on Dr. Baltimore’s lecture and other Biology of Aging events can be found at www.mbl.edu/aging. Public parking for the lecture is available in the MBL’s Bar Neck Road parking lot, 33 Bar Neck Road, across from the Woods Hole Yacht Club.


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas.