Howard Martin Temin
Born: 10 December 1934, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Died: 9 February 1994, Madison, WI, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell"
Field: genetics, medical oncology, virology
Prize share: 1/3
After Renato Dulbecco discovered that tumor viruses operate by incorporating their DNA into the DNA of host cells, Howard Temin and David Baltimore - independently of one another - discovered that viruses with genomes consisting of RNA can also be inserted into host cells' DNA. This takes place through an enzyme known as "reverse transcriptase". The discovery that the information in RNA can be transferred to DNA meant that the generally accepted rule that genetic information was only transferred in one direction - from DNA to RNA, to protein - had to be modified.
"for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"
"for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes"
"for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells"