A Nobel laureate from MIT predicted yesterday that many top researchers will leave the Cambridge academic cummunity unless the City Council rescinds the ban it ordered on recombinant DNA research..
"When the city puts restrictions on these experiments it effectively hamstrings any kind of significant research," Dr. David L. Baltimore said yesterday. "I don't think young scientists will be happy with this kind of negative influence."
Many Harvard professors feel that such a crisis will not materialize here, however.
John E. Dowling '57, chairman of Harvard's Biology Department, said yesterday there is no evidence to support such a claim as far as the University is concerned.
"I don't think that from a Harvard point of view that Baltimore has an accurate statement," Bowling said." I don;t know anyone who will leave Harvard because of the ban."
The Cambridge City Council instituted the ban on recombinant DNA research last July 8 because it feared that such experiments could lead to a widespread outbreak of disease in a heavily populated area like Cambridge.
The council's action was prompted by Harvard's decision to build a high-security containment laboratory suitable for recombinant DNA research.
Cambridge Mayor Alfred E. Velluci said yesterday that "the reason Harvard rushed to get this containment facility built was to prevent their top scientists from leaving."
"It sounds like a threat to me," Everett I. Mendelssohn, professor of the History of Science, said yesterday. "Baltimore knows that the city appointed a very competent commission to look into the matter, and now he seems to be trying to gain a bit of leverage over it."
Only one Harvard researcher has so far been directly affected by the ban. Dr. Tom Maniatis, who has taken a leave to conduct his recombinant DNA research at a lab facility in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., says that he may not return to Cambridge even if the present ban is lifted.
"My situation is unique in regard to the question of the ban," Maniatis said yesterday. "It's not just an inconvenience, but would have caused insurmountable problems with my research had I stayed in Cambridge."