Recorded: 03 Jun 2016
I came to science only because friends of my parents who lived in Pittsburgh had sent their sons to MIT, my parents were from Europe, they didn’t know much about American universities, so they said ‘Why don’t you apply to MIT?’ So I did and I was admitted, actually and I thought I’d initially become a doctor - I was in a pre-med curriculum. But within a year or two of being an undergraduate at MIT I heard that doctors needed to stay up all night to take care of patients and I knew already then that I need my sleep, so I decided that wasn’t the profession for me and so I moved into biology just as a refugee from becoming a doctor. And those were the years when molecular biology was just beginning to heat up in the early 1960s and in 1963 I took a genetics course in which was described the DNA-RNA protein paradigm and how one could understand the phenotypes of cells and even organisms through this simple conceptual model. And I found it to be very exciting - that the complexity of the biosphere in principle could be understood and rationalized in terms of a small number of underlying fundamental principles.
Robert "Bob" Weinberg is Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and director of the Ludwig Cancer Center at MIT, an American Cancer Society Research Professor, and is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
In 1982 he was one of the scientists to discover the first human oncogene, Ras, which causes normal cells to form tumors, and his lab also isolated the first known tumor suppressor gene, Rb.
He co-authored with Douglas Hanahan the landmark "Hallmarks of Cancer" paper in 2000, which laid out the six requirements for a healthy cell to become cancerous.