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Walter Gilbert

Born March 21, 1932 (1932-03-21) (age 77)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality U.S.
Fields Biochemistry, physics
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Walter Gilbert (born March 21, 1932) is an American physicist, biochemist, molecular biology pioneer, and Nobel laureate.


Gilbert was born in Boston, Massachusetts into a Jewish family and educated at the Sidwell Friends School, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, later joining the faculty at Harvard. Together with Allan Maxam he developed a new DNA sequencing method[1]. His approach to the first synthesis of insulin lost out to Genentech's approach which used genes built up from the nucleotides rather than from natural sources.

In 1979, Gilbert was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University together with Frederick Sanger. In the following year, he was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Frederick Sanger and Paul Berg. Gilbert and Sanger were recognized for their pioneering work in devising methods for determining the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid. Walter Gilbert also first proposed the term RNA world hypothesis for the origin of life, for a concept first proposed by Carl Woese in 1967. He is a co-founder of the biotech start-up companies Biogen and Myriad Genetics, and was the first chairman on their respective boards of directors. He is also a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Gilbert is currently the chairman of the Harvard Society of Fellows.


  1. ^ Maxam, A M; Gilbert, W (1977), "A new method for sequencing DNA.", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 74 (2): 560–4, 1977 Feb, doi:10.1073/pnas.74.2.560, PMID :265521,  

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Walter Gilbert (born March 21, 1932) is an American physicist, biochemist, entrepreneur, and molecular biology pioneer. He was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Paul Berg and Frederick Sanger.


  • I would not be surprised if there were another cause of AIDS and even that HIV is not involved.
    • Omni (June 1993)
  • [Duesberg] is absolutely correct in saying that no one has proven that AIDS is caused by the AIDS virus. And he is absolutely correct that the virus cultured in the laboratory may not be the cause of AIDS.
    • Hippocrates (Sept./Oct. 1988)
  • The community as a whole doesn't listen patiently to critics who adopt alternative viewpoints. Although the great lesson of history is that knowledge develops through the conflict of viewpoints.
    • Meditel (1990)
  • I am afraid that those comments go back to the late 80's. <...> Today I would regard the success of the many antiviral agents which lower the virus titers (to be expected) and also resolve the failure of the immune system (only expected if the virus is the cause of the failure) as a reasonable proof of the causation argument.
    • Personall communication (2006)[1]



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