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The most significant clash of science and principle in our time -- a dramatic witch hunt played out in the scientific arena.
David Baltimore won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1975, at the age of thirty-seven. A leading researcher and respected public figure, Baltimore rose steadily through the ranks of the scientific community; in 1990, he was named president of world-renowned Rockefeller University. Less than a year and a half later, Baltimore was forced to resign amid public allegations of fraud.
Daniel Kevles's penetrating investigation of what became known as the Baltimore case reveals a scientific inquisition in which Baltimore and Thereza Imanishi-Kari, former colleagues at MIT, were unjustly accused and vilified in the name of scientific integrity and public trust. While never accused of wrongdoing himself, Baltimore had staunchly defended the work and integrity of Imanishi-Kari when her findings came under attack from postdoctoral fellow Margot O'Toole. Backed by fervent fraud-seekers at the National Institutes of Health, a congressman eager to unearth scientific misconduct, and a media gone out of control, O'Toole's whistle-blowing played perfectly to a public that did not fully understand the methods of science.
Kevles's eloquent and absorbing work vindicates Baltimore and Imanishi-Kari after their decade-long battle. But Kevles also raises critical questions about the way science works and about the complex discord between the public's right to accountability and the scientist's need for autonomy in the laboratory.