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Tech Talk Articles from 6/7/95 | 1995 | Tech Talk | Search | MIT News | Comments | MIT


Baltimore, Harbison, Wang elevated to ranks of Institute Professors

From MIT Tech Talk
June 7, 1995

Baltimore, Harbison, Wang elevated to ranks of Institute Professors

In recognition of their world-renowned work and their dedication and 
service to the MIT community, Professors David Baltimore, John H. 
Harbison and Daniel I.C. Wang have been named Institute Professor, a 
title that MIT reserves for about 12 scholars of special distinction. 
The honor is initiated by the faculty and bestowed jointly by the 
administration and faculty.

"These people are all world leaders in their fields," said Professor 
Robert Jaffe, chair of the faculty. "They are absolutely extraordinary 
in terms of being role models, in the creativity and depth of their 
scholarship and teaching and in their commitment to the Institute and to 
academia in general." 
Professor Jaffe, after reviewing the faculty nominations with the 
president, provost and the dean of the appropriate school, appointed 
three panels of colleagues in various fields from MIT and other 
institutions. These colleagues sought the opinions of peers in their 
fields and evaluated the recommendations for Institute Professor. The 
cases were then reviewed by the Academic Council and approved by the 
Executive Committee of the Corporation.

In addition to the prestige associated with the title, an Institute 
Professor has a distinctive measure of freedom to define the scope and 
nature of his or her responsibilities. Reporting directly to the provost 
rather than to a department head or School dean, the Institute Professor 
does not have regular departmental or School responsibilities. 
President Charles M. Vest said "The extraordinary accomplishments of 
Professors Baltimore, Harbison and Wang make us all very proud to be 
their colleagues. Each has advanced fundamental knowledge and 
understanding, yet also contributed directly and demonstrably to 
improving the quality of human life. Their contributions to science, 
music and engineering epitomize MIT's value to society as a great 
research university. Each has profoundly affected his field of endeavor 
through the students he has educated as well as through his own research 
and creative activities."


"David Baltimore has been a leader in nearly every facet of modern 
biology," said Dr. Jaffe, summarizing the assessments of Dr. Baltimore's 
peers. "He has done significant research on DNA replication, the 
biochemical mechanisms of oncogene action, and the molecular mechanisms 
that regulate immune response. 
"The discovery of reverse transcriptase enzyme, for which Baltimore-at 
the age of 37-and Howard Temin received the Nobel Prize in 1975, helped 
form the basis for modern genetic engineering. Dr. Baltimore's work 
includes more than 500 scientific papers and articles. In his 
laboratory, he has trained hundreds of students and colleagues who have 
become leaders in biological science. 
"He was a strong force behind the development of the MIT Center for 
Cancer Research founded by the late Professor Salvador Luria. He was the 
driving force, with philanthropist Jack Whitehead, in creating and 
leading the Whitehead Institute, affiliating it with MIT and greatly 
strengthening the Department of Biology, making it a premier center for 
the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

"As a public participant on scientific issues, he was a leading voice 
urging a temporary moratorium on recombinant DNA research in the 1970s 
until the possible hazards were addressed. His work as co-chair in 1986 
of the Committee on a National Strategy for AIDS, in assessing the risks 
and needs to meet the AIDS disaster, is an example of his deep societal 
concerns and commitment."

One colleague said Baltimore is the premier biomedical scientist of his 
time and has had a lasting impact on virtually every realm of modern 
biology. He has been a teacher of great impact in the classroom who has 
been unswerving in his conviction that other scientists also should 
aspire to teach, the colleague said. 
Dr. Baltimore has been on the MIT faculty since 1968 except for 1990 to 
1994, when he served as president and then professor at Rockefeller 
University. He was director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical 
Research from 1982 to 1990.

Professor Jaffe said one reviewer commented that it is not an 
exaggeration to say that one could write a pretty decent history of the 
last 25 years in biology by reviewing Dr. Baltimore's contributions. 

John Harbison has managed "the almost impossible task of combining 
sophistication and accessibility in his music. He has written music at 
once profound and witty, embracing folk themes, formal structures and 
deep social concern," Professor Jaffe said, summarizing the faculty 
recommendations. "He is one of this country's most celebrated composers" 
and "one of the indispensable voices of our time," said one colleague.

In 1987, Professor Harbison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 
oratorio, Flight Into Egypt, which used the story of the Nativity to 
explore the situation of the poor and homeless in contemporary society. 
A colleague noted that the composer contributed all the fees for that 
piece to a Boston shelter for the homeless. 
In 1989, Professor Harbison received a $305,000 fellowship from the John 
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

"He has written for every type of concert performance, from the grandest 
to the most intimate, pieces that embrace jazz along with the pre-
classical forms of Schutz and Bach, the graceful tonality of Prokofiev 
along with the rigorous atonal methods of the Stravinsky," said last 
year's citation that accompanied the James R. Killian Faculty 
Achievement Award, also bestowed by faculty colleagues.

A member of the MIT faculty since 1969, a full professor since 1979 and 
Class of 1949 Professor in the Music and Theater Arts Section of the 
Department of Humanities since 1984, he has been instrumental in 
bringing the best young faculty to the Music Section and the most 
distinguished senior composers and performers to MIT as guest artists. 
He has been deeply involved in the admissions process and has been "the 
Music Section's guiding light and intellect as it has grown in national 
stature until now it is recognized as one of the leading non-
conservatory music departments in America," a colleague said.

Professor Harbison has taught in all three branches of the music 
curriculum-history, composition and performance-and currently teaches 
two fall and spring courses, Writing in Tonal Forms and Chamber Music. 
He has twice been chair of the section, and in collaboration with 
Professor Marcus Thompson, he has developed a chamber music program 
which now includes 25 ensembles. "On any given night, from 6pm to 
midnight, it is not unusual to find John moving from one chamber 
ensemble rehearsal to another through the corridors of Building 4," a 
colleague said.

"John's leadership within the Boston music community has been 
extraordinary," said Professor Jaffe, citing his work over the years 
with chamber music groups, as music director of Cantata Singers, 
Collage, and as principal guest conductor of Emmanuel Music at Emmanuel 

As the commencement speaker at the New England Conservatory of Music in 
1994, Professor Harbison said:

"The finding of the sublime in the daily routine is one of the highest 
purposes of art and cannot be abandoned by your generation. Don't be 
surprised if this quest for a lofty absorption of popular elements into 
new musical shapes leads toward a restoration of the sacred function of 
your musical art. So many of the finest musical achievements of the past 
have occurred when we have tried to speak with or describe some form of 
God. Music was created to bring people together in ritual spaces to make 
sounds that describe their urge for transcendence. We can't wait for the 
churches to lead us back into this function. We musicians must take that 
lead, for when music takes on the next world, it gains freedom from 
fashion, routine and self-consciousness."


"Danny Wang has been the driving force in biochemical engineering at MIT 
and throughout the world," said Professor Jaffe. "Many of his students 
have been the leaders in this field, which, as his colleagues noted, has 
been one of the underpinnings of the nation's biotechnology industry." 
One group that nominated Professor Wang said he established the 
Institute's leadership in biochemical engineering through his research 
and teaching, and through the inception, organization and continuing 
intellectual leadership of the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center 
(BPEC). BPEC was founded in 1985 as a multidisciplinary research center 
focused on problems in biochemical engineering that has brought together 
faculty from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Chemical 
Engineering. On the international scale, Dr. Wang has been a pioneer in 
his efforts to establish the generic value of chemical engineering 
principles in the analysis and understanding of microbial and, in 
general, biologically based systems.

Dr. Wang's nomination was supported by many of the most important people 
in his field both at MIT and outside the Institute, according to 
Professor Jaffe. 
Dr. Jaffe said one group summarized his contributions this way: "Dan 
Wang's research contributions span an extremely broad range of 
biochemical engineering applications. These include fermentation, 
monitoring and control of bioprocesses, renewable resource utilization, 
enzyme technology, product recovery and purification, protein 
aggregation and refolding, and mammalian cell cultures. He has 
supervised approximately 50 doctoral students who are now leaders in 
industry positions. and academia. In addition, Dan has greatly 
contributed to the nation in terms of service to engineering and 
biotechnology. For example, he has been the chair of the Membership 
Committee of the National Academy of Engineering, a member of the 
National Biotechnology Policy Board at the National Institute of Health, 
a member of the National Research Council Committee on Bioprocess 
Engineering, a member of the National Research Council Committee on 
Biotechnology, and a member of the Board of Biology of the National 
Research Council."

Dr. Wang's contributions to MIT through leadership and training have 
been remarkable, Professor Jaffe noted. In particular, the Biotechnology 
Process Engineering Center established and directed by Professor Wang, 
and now entering its 11th year, has trained hundreds of scientists-among 
them scientists at nearly every top academic institution in the country, 
as well as many leading biotechnology companies-and has been a magnet 
for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at MIT. Some 
700 students have participated in this program to date. His summer 
course on Fermentation Technology is the longest-running (30 years) and 
most successful course at MIT, having educated more than 2,000 people 
from industry.

Commented one colleague: "It is hard to say whether Danny has 
contributed more to the profession of biochemical engineering or to MIT, 
as the two are totally intertwined."

Dr. Wang, who joined the MIT faculty in 1965, received the SB (1959) and 
SM (1961) from MIT, and the PhD in chemical engineering from the 
University of Pennsylvania in 1963. Currently the Chevron Professor of 
Chemical Engineering, he has received numerous honors and awards and is 
a member both of the National Academy of Engineering and the American 
Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has co-authored five books and more 
than 100 papers in professional journals.

Currently, there are 10 Institute Professors including Robert M. Solow, 
Nobel laureate in economics, who is retiring at the end of June. Besides 
Professor Solow, the current Institute Professors and their fields are 
Noam A. Chomsky, linguistics; John M. Deutch, chemistry (on leave and 
currently serving the nation as director of Central Intelligence); 
Mildred S. Dresselhaus, electrical engineering and physics; Jerome I. 
Friedman, Nobel Laureate in physics; Morris Halle, linguistics; Hermann 
A. Haus, electrical engineering and computer science; John D.C. Little, 
management; Isadore M. Singer, mathematics, and John S. Waugh, 

Tech Talk Articles from 6/7/95 | 1995 | Tech Talk | Search | MIT News | Comments | MIT