Recorded: 03 Jun 2016
I think the person who influenced my life in science most was David Baltimore. It was through his whispering in the ear of Salvador Luria that I was recruited back to MIT after I had been gone for three years. I arrived and because the new MIT Cancer Center was not yet built, I worked in one corner of Baltimore’s laboratory, a sort of a research associate and soon an assistant professor on my own, by 1974. And Baltimore told me early on, he said to me ‘I never want to publish a paper with you. Because if I publish a paper with you everybody will say ‘Look at what Baltimore has done’ because everyone knows who I am and no body has ever heard the name ‘Weinberg.’’ And from that I really understood that it’s very important to take into account the career development of one’s trainees. It’s not just to develop a more and more publications that have long bibliographies. Indeed I’m often amused by talk that someone has four hundred, five hundred, six hundred papers and I think to myself ‘Are they going to inscribe each of those papers on the headstone of that person’s grave in the cemetery?’ Doesn’t help. So, either one enjoys doing the science and one enjoys mentoring young people or one doesn’t. And it’s not so important how many publications one has, as much as how conceptually important different publications are in terms of changing peoples thinking.
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.