Download Ahead of the Curve: David Baltimore's Life in Science by Shane Crotty PDF

By Shane Crotty

In Nineteen Fifties, Watson and Crick proven a so-called "central dogma" in molecular biology: DNA makes RNA, and RNA makes proteins. despite the fact that, round 1970, teams in US discovered the 1st exception of this rule. David Baltimore's and Howard Temin's groups came across that RNA makes DNA! This unforeseen discovering of theirs in cancer-causing RNA viruses not just made this box up-side down, but additionally opened a brand new road referred to as "recombinant expertise" a decade later, for cloning genes and transfering any gene from one species to a different virtually at will. for that reason, Baltimore and Temin shared a Nobel prize in 1975. Baltimore's greatness prolonged past the technological know-how. He considered this international in an "unconventional" demeanour. He married a highly-talented chinese language biologist, and protested opposed to the hugely arguable US wars in Vietnam and Iraq. He has an outstanding knowledge which lets study from this well-written biography.

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From Philip George, Baltimore would learn biochemistry laboratory techniques, including protein purification. In the same way that geneticists were s wa rt h m o r e 29 finding it powerful to study single genes, biochemists wanted to study individual proteins. To do so, they needed to purify their favorite protein from the thousands of others in an organism like E. coli. Using more sophisticated purification techniques than he had tried with the sea cucumber, David ground up batches of E. coli and flowed the batches through various “columns,” which acted as thick filters to separate proteins according to their di¤erent properties, like size or electrical charge.

Thomas Hunt Morgan, probably the greatest geneticist of the early twentieth century, built on Mendel’s ideas by using fruit flies (Drosophila) to study hereditary traits. Fruit flies gave quick results because of their short lifespan and rapid breeding: thus genetic experiments could be completed in two weeks instead of the months it took using Mendel’s pea plants, or the years it took with Jackson Lab’s mice. Huge numbers of flies could be stored in mason jars, and Drosophila had plenty of observable genetic traits to be explored, such as eye color, wing shape, and hair length.

There were three major complications with his hunch. First, most biologists were satisfied that the molecular biology of animal viruses would simply match that of the bacteriophage. Why shouldn’t it? Biologists were rapidly determining the basic molecular biology of phage and bacteria, and they confidently assumed that the rules they were developing would hold true for higher organisms. Nevertheless, it would be necessary to study animal viruses and find out. Nature has a tendency to disprove biologists’ gut feelings of how the world “should” be.

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