Salk Institute for Biological Studies
February 22, 1914 - February 19, 2012
Election Year: 1961
Scientific Discipline: Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member
Renato Dulbecco was a leading virologist who is credited with significant advances in the study of cancer. Dulbecco is well known for his discovery of a link between genetic mutations and cancer, a discovery that led to the modern understanding of the role of carcinogens in the development and prevention of cancer. Dulbecco’s research was also instrumental in identifying the role of viruses in cancer, establishing the relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, in addition to a number of other viruses and cancers.
Dulbecco graduated from the University of Torino with his medical degree in 1936. He served the Italian Army in World War II as a medical professional in Russia until he dislocated his shoulder, at which point he returned to Italy and joined the resistance movement against the Nazis. After the fall of Germany, Dulbecco became involved with reconstruction efforts and joined his city council. He returned to medical research and was soon recruited to Indiana University at Bloomington. Dulbecco joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1949 and moved to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1962. He served as president of Salk from 1988 to 1992. Dulbecco was awarded the 1975 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his work related to cancer-causing oncoviruses.