Biographical Sketch – Baldomero Olivera, 1996
Dr. Baldomero “Toto” Olivera has devoted much of his career to critical issues in DNA replication and recently to the study of Molecular Neurobiology. Specifically, he and his collaborators investigate ion channels and receptors using the small peptide neurotoxins produced by carnivorous cone snails.
He is the co-discoverer of DNA ligase which he published in 1967. His current work has allowed for the development of the use of peptide neurotoxins as pharmacological agents for cancer patients. In the past five years he and his collaborators have published 26 peer reviewed journal articles. Through these articles he has demonstrated the presence of families of new conotoxins that target nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Dr. Olivera was born in the Philippines.
He graduated from the University of the Philippines, Queron City in 1960 with a degree in Chemistry. After earning his Ph.D. in 1966 in Biochemistry from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena he completed two post-doctoral years at Stanford University with Dr. I.R. Lehman. Dr. Olivera accepted a position as a research associate professor of Biochemistry at the University of the Philippines Medical School but after one year he was offered an appointment at Kansas State University where he became a Visiting Research Associate Professor of Biology in 1969.
He then moved from Kansas State University to the University of Utah, Salt Lake as an Associate Professor in 1970 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1973. Olivera has been awarded many honors including a Fulbright Scholarship in 1961; a Damon Runyon Fellowship from 1966-1968; Ten Outstanding Young Men, Jaycees 1968; Eli Lilly Unrestricted Research Award 1968-1970; American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, 1975-1980; University of Philippines Chemical Society Outstanding Alumnus Award, 1982; Utah Governors Medal for Science and Technology, 1991, and in 1992 he was honored for his contributions to the university and the scientific community and named Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Utah. Currently Olivera is the director of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at the University of Utah.
In addition to his extensive contributions to our knowledge base, Olivera has served on NIH review committees, and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Toxicology-Toxin Review and Molecular Diversity. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the NIH.