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David Baltimore Resigns as President of Rockefeller University

December 2, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ One of the nation’s most distinguished scientists announced his resignation Monday as president of Rockefeller University. He blamed a ″climate of unhappiness″ surrounding an allegation of fraud in a scientific paper of which he was a co-author.

″When I accepted the position of president of this institution, I did not anticipate that this matter would become such an extended personal travail for everyone involved,″ David Baltimore said in a letter to David Rockefeller and Richard Furlaud of the university’s board of trustees.

Baltimore, who took over as president of the university two years ago, said he would resign effective Dec. 31. He will remain as a professor, resuming AIDS research that he said he was forced to drop when he accepted the presidency.

The board of trustees is expected to accept Baltimore’s resignation at its meeting Tuesday. Prof. Torsten Wiesel will take over as acting president, and a committee will be established to begin the search for a new president in January, the university said.

A spokesman for Baltimore said Baltimore would have no comment beyond what he said in his letter.

In the letter, Baltimore said, ″The reason I have decided to take this step is that the ... controversy created a climate of unhappiness among some in the university that could not be dispelled.″

Baltimore won a Nobel Prize in 1975 for research on the basic biology of viruses. For more than five years, he has been the focus of one of the most rancorous and widely publicized investigations of scientific fraud.

Although Baltimore himself has never been accused of fraud, he was sharply criticized for a dismissive attitude toward the investigation and for a stonewalling defense that he eventually was forced to abandon.

Earlier this year, an investigation by the National Institutes of Health concluded that the scientific paper Baltimore was defending did indeed include errors.

In May, Baltimore apologized to the researcher who made the allegations of scientific fraud.

In his letter of resignation, Baltimore said that governing the university under the cloud of the fraud investigation ″has taken a personal toll on me and my family which I can no longer tolerate.″

″Therefore,″ Baltimore wrote, ″I cannot lead The Rockefeller University as effectively as I would like and as effectively as it deserves to be led.″

In a reply to Baltimore, Rockefeller and Furlaud said, ″Speaking for the board of trustees, we can tell you that we share your deep disappointment at this development. What makes this especially difficult for all of us is that an outstanding performance is being cut short.″

Rockefeller University is one of the nation’s most esteemed research institutions. Baltimore received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller. He was recruited as president after serving as founding director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute, which rose quickly under his leadership to become a highly respected and successful research center.

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