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Renato Dulbecco
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Doctor
    (February 22, 1914-February 19, 2012)
    Born in Catanzaro, Italy
    Virologist
    Naturalized US citizen (1953)
    Founding member of the Salk Institute for Biological Research (1962)
    Co-recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his role in finding a link between genetic mutations and cancer
    Wrote an influential editorial in 'Science' (1986) that was considered the impetus for the Human Genome Project
    He was a medical officer in fascist Italy's army serving on the Russian front during World War II.
    He took up the study of animal viruses, which eventually led to his Nobel Prize, mainly because Caltech had received a $100,000 grant for the subject and needed someone to do the actual research.
    Less than a year after divorcing his first wife, he married his lab assistant.
    He ran a human genome project for the Italian government that petered out after five years due to a lack of funding (1992-97).
    He graduated high school at age 16 and earned his medical degree at 22.
    After returning from the Russian front, he joined the Italian resistance, tending to injured partisans.
    He wrote that during a cross-country trip to take his new post at Caltech, he was 'fascinated by the beauty and immensity of the U.S.A. and the kindness of its people.'
    He created a method to measure the amount of polio virus in a cell culture, an essential step in developing the Sabin polio vaccine.
    In the years after winning his Nobel Prize, he pioneered a technique for identifying cancer cells by their genetic markers.
    He was a classically trained pianist.

Credit: C. Fishel


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