In a surprising move, the California Institute of Technology announced today that it has named Nobel Prize-winning virologist David Baltimore as its new president. "It's a great appointment for Caltech and a wonderful opportunity for David Baltimore," says Stanford's Paul Berg, also a Nobel laureate.
Science historian Daniel Kevles, chair of Caltech's faculty, says, "I think everybody wins." Last year, Kevles wrote a New Yorker magazine article about the "resurrection" of Baltimore, who returned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 after resigning as president of Rockefeller University in New York City. Baltimore stepped down from the Rockefeller post in the midst of a bruising public battle with Representative John Dingell (D-MI) over charges that a former colleague, whom Baltimore defended, had committed scientific misconduct. He was vindicated when the charges were finally dismissed last year.
Baltimore plans to continue as chair of an AIDS vaccine advisory committee at the National Institutes of Health, a post he took last January. "That was a long-term commitment, and the committee has only just started to reshape the vaccine research program," he said in a statement. Baltimore will replace Thomas Everhart, Caltech's president for 10 years, this fall.