Joshua Lederberg dies

Joshua Lederberg, Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist who shaped the field of bacterial genetics, and served as chair of The Scientist's advisory board since 1986, died on Saturday (February 2). He was 82. Lederberg shared a linkurl:Nobel Prize;http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1958/index.html in physiology and medicine in 1958 for the discovery that certain strains of bacteria reproduce by mating, thereby exchanging their genetic material. This overturned the idea held

Feb 4, 2008
Andrea Gawrylewski
Joshua Lederberg, Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist who shaped the field of bacterial genetics, and served as chair of The Scientist's advisory board since 1986, died on Saturday (February 2). He was 82. Lederberg shared a linkurl:Nobel Prize;http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1958/index.html in physiology and medicine in 1958 for the discovery that certain strains of bacteria reproduce by mating, thereby exchanging their genetic material. This overturned the idea held at the time that bacteria did not warrant genetic study and set the field of bacterial genetics into motion. According to the ISI database Lederberg published 288 papers. His most highly cited paper, published in 1952 on bacterial mutants, was cited more than 1100 times. An analysis of citations of Lederberg's papers can be found linkurl:here.;http://garfield.library.upenn.edu/histcomp/index-lederberg.html "He was one of the most significant scientists of our generation" Eugene Garfield, founder of The Scientist, said. Lederberg was also one of the early supporters of the Science Citation Index, developed by Garfield in the 1950s. Lederberg wrote a letter to Garfield in 1959, praising his concept of "Citation Indexes," and the two continued to discuss the idea as Garfield developed it in the 1960s. They remained close friends and colleagues since then. Lederberg wrote numerous articles for The Scientist, outlining his diverse interests in linkurl:biology,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13816/ the search for extraterrestrial life -- which he termed exobiology (read about it linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/8568/ ), linkurl:scientific communication;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/12335/ and linkurl: scientific philosophy.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/17139/ In 1957, Lederberg founded the department of medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and moved two years later to Stanford University School of Medicine where he founded the department of genetics. Lederberg was married to a fellow microbial geneticist, linkurl:Esther Zimmer,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/37394/ for 20 years. Soon after they divorced, he married his wife of 40 years, Marguerite. Lederberg served as the president of Rockefeller University from 1978 until 1990, remaining at Rockefeller as president emeritus of molecular genetics and informatics. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1989 and Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Lederberg is survived by his wife Marguerite, and their two children. Look for more tributes of Lederberg's life and career in the coming days. Post your own memories of Lederberg linkurl:here.;http://www.the-scientist.com/forum/addcomment/54279/Editor's Note: A correction has been made to this story. In the original version the article stated that Lederberg moved to Stanford University and founded the school of medicine. He in fact founded the department of genetics there, which this new version reflects. The Scientist regrets the error.