Renato Dulbecco on Leading the Salk Institute
  Renato Dulbecco     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Feb 2011

MD: I was against it, quite honestly. Because really, it meant giving up the lab, he couldn't do both things, you tried very briefly and you said, no, it's impossible. It's a full-time job, and I remember at that juncture the institution was in a very precarious state because the former president had been quite ill for a long time and his judgment was not good on many occasions. Lots of people were going to leave, good people, and I remember you decided your major task was to convince these people to stay, and you know, you were-- I was quite surprised actually, because you did it very well. Socially, he's very quiet, as you know [Mila interrupts], but then all of the sudden, he's remembered everybody's names, meet people at these social gatherings, fantastic. I think you actually quite enjoyed it, but it was always taking on-- first of all, it was supposed to be for a year, then it went on and on, and gradually became almost five years, and that was after, that was after the genome project got started, people in Italy wanted him to get involved with some small groups in Milan and Rome, and so on.

MD: Yes, but again you see we, he didn't could do that and be president of the Salk Institute at the same time. Because it involved going back and forth to Europe every couple of months for months or so, but I think you were a very good president at Salk, and the faculty liked him, trust him. And I think before that Freddy Hoffman was president, and there was Freddy Hoffman, there was the board of trustees, and the people at the institute didn't have much input in terms of decisions, the future of the institute, they should, they were-- I mean I think Freddy's idea was they should be happy they had a job and should shut up and let him get on with it. He didn't tell them what to do scientifically, but he certainly had definite ideas on how the institute should be run, and I think you changed all of that. Gave the faculty more say in academic affairs.

Renato Dulbecco was born in Catanzaro,Italy, in 1914. He studied medicine in Turin before joining the Italian Resistance movement against Benito Mussolini during theSecond Wold War.

After the war Dulbecco emigrated to the United States and worked with Salvador Luria at the University of Indiana before moving on to the University of California.

Won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1964.

Won the 1975 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology with David Baltimore and Howard Temin "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell".