Renato Dulbecco

Dulbecco, Renato (rənätˈō dŭlbĕkˈō) [key], 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. 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 Sabin, 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. Temin and David Baltimore, two of his former students. In subsequent research focused on breast cancer, Dulbecco pioneered a method for using monoclonal antibodies 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 Project when he called for sequencing and cataloging all human genes to aid in cancer research.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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