In 1960, the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin - Madison recruited him as a virologist; a position that had been hard to fill because, at the time, virology was not considered pertinent to cancer research. Even though Temin knew he would be completely independent in Madison, because of the lack of research involving virology and oncology together, Temin stated that he was “supremely self-confident.” When he first arrived in Madison in 1960, he found an unprepared laboratory in the basement of a rundown building with an office that could be considered a closet. Until a more suitable laboratory could be prepared, he continued his research with RSV at a friend’s laboratory at the University of Illinois. Later that year, he returned to Madison, continued his RSV research in his own lab, and began his position as an assistant professor.
After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1975, Temin went from a rebel in the scientific community to a highly respected researcher. Temin began receiving international recognition for his work, and used his newly acquired fame to improve the world. An Example of this was in October 1976; Temin helped Scientists in the Soviet Union that were targeted by the KGB, the secret police in the Soviet Union. The Jewish Soviet Scientists had been stripped of their jobs and oppressed after requesting visas to emigrate to Israel. Temin made it his mission to personally visit the Scientists and their families. He gave them gifts that could be resold to help them financially, and he gave the Scientists copies of scientific journals, which had been banned by the KGB. On one occasion, Howard Temin gave a lecture to some of the Jewish Soviet Scientists in someone’s home. The next morning, almost all of Scientists that had attended the lecture were arrested. After they were released, Temin tape-recorded one of the scientist’s account of the event and gave the tape to newspapers in the United States so that the situation that Jewish Scientists were facing would be publicized.
After winning the Nobel Prize, Temin also became more active in the scientific community outside of research. He was involved in over 14 scientific journals. In 1979, he became an advisory member for the Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and a member of the human gene therapy subgroup of the recombinant DNA advisory committee. He was also a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, and the chairman of the AIDS subcommittee. At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), he was the chairman of a genetic variation advisory panel on the development of AIDS, and was a member of vaccine advisory board. In the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), he was a member of the Waksman Award committee and report review committee. In 1986, Temin became a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM)/NAS committee for national strategy for public policy issues associated with AIDS. The last committee Temin served on was the World Health Organization Advisory Council.
In 1981, Temin became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.
In 1992 Temin received the National Medal of Science. Temin was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1988.
A walking path along Lake Mendota at UW–Madison was renamed in Temin’s honor in 1998. The Howard M. Temin Path, also known as the Lakeshore Path, is a 1.6-mile path that extends from the limnology building near Memorial Union to Picnic Point. The path is used frequently by university students, faculty, and other residents of Madison. At the dedication ceremony, James Crow, a UW-Madison professor, said, “Howard loved to walk and bicycle along this path, and it is most fitting that it be dedicated to his memory.”
Another Example of Temin trying to improve the world was at the Nobel Prize reception. After receiving the Nobel Prize from King Carl Gustav of Sweden; Temin addressed the smokers in the audience, which included the Queen of Denmark, saying he was “outraged that one major measure available to prevent much cancer, namely the cessation of smoking, had not been more widely adopted.” He had also insisted that the ashtray located on the laureates’ table be removed.