The lecture is part of "Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution," an ongoing series of explorations at the intersection of art and science hosted by the Art Center College of Design's Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery in Pasadena. The series includes works displayed in the Williamson Gallery and focuses on the social, political, and cultural impact of developments in the fields of biology and genetics and continues through September 28.
Baltimore is perhaps the most influential biologist of his generation. Awarded the Nobel Prize at the age of 37 for his work in virology, he has also had a profound influence on national science policy regarding such issues as recombinant DNA research and the AIDS epidemic. His accomplishments in multiple areas of expertise—as a researcher, educator, administrator, and public advocate for science and engineering—were instrumental in his selection as Caltech's seventh president.
Early in his career, as a professor at MIT, Baltimore's investigations focused on questions about the relationship between DNA and RNA in a cell's internal functions—specifically, on how cancer-causing RNA viruses manage to infect a healthy cell. One result of this research was the identification of the enzyme reverse transcriptase which led to his 1975 Nobel Prize. His finding has greatly expanded scientists' understanding of retroviruses like HIV.
In addition to his research accomplishments, Baltimore has several outstanding administrative and public-policy achievements to his credit. In the mid-1970s, he played an important role in creating a consensus on national science policy regarding recombinant DNA research. He served as founding director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT from 1982 until 1990. An early advocate of federal AIDS research, Baltimore was appointed in 1996 to head the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee. He was also a professor at Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1994, and Rockefeller's president from 1990 to 1991.
"Paradise Now" investigates urgent issues and concerns triggered by the modification of cells in humans and food, and provides viewers with an opportunity to pay closer attention to advances in science and to reflect on the boundaries between science and imagination.
The exhibit is curated by Marvin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric. It is touring under the auspices of Pamela Auchincloss /Arts Management, New York. Williamson Gallery exhibitions are funded in part by grants from the Pasadena Art Alliance and the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation.
Artists in "Paradise Now" include Suzanne Anker, Dennis Ashbaugh, Aziz + Cucher, Brandon Ballengée, Christine Borland, Nancy Burson, Helen Chadwick, Kevin Clarke, Keith Cottingham, Bryan Crockett, Christine Davis, George Gessert, Rebecca Howland, David Kremers, Jane Lackey, Julian Laverdiere, Karl S. Mihail and Tran T. Kim-Trang, Larry Miller, Steve Miller, Frank Moore, Alexis Rockman, Bradley Rubinstein, Nicolas Rule, Christy Rupp, Gary Schneider, Laura Stein, Catherine Wagner, Gail Wight, and Janet Zweig.
Williamson Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (noon to 9 p.m. on Fridays). The gallery is closed Mondays and holidays. Parking and admission are free. For taped gallery information call (626) 396-2446. Art Center is located at 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, in the hills just above the Rose Bowl.
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