Science Advocate, Climate Change Authority Dies

Ralph Cicerone, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, has passed away at age 73.

Nov 7, 2016
Jef Akst

MARK FINKENSTAEDT/NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCESScience advocate Ralph Cicerone, a leader in atmospheric chemistry and climate change, died unexpectedly over the weekend (November 5) in his home in Short Hills, New Jersey, of an undisclosed cause. He was 73.

More than his contributions to any one field, Cicerone was known as a true leader of science. For more than a decade, he served as president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), stepping down after his second term (the maximum allowed by the organization’s bylaws) this June. He was a regular voice in science policy debates as well as a vocal advocate for the use of scientific evidence “to inform government decision-making and public discourse,” according to an NAS statement.

“The entire scientific community is mourning the sudden and untimely loss of this great leader who has been unexpectedly removed from the forefront of the scientific issues that matter most to the future well-being of society,” Marcia McNutt, Cicerone’s successor as NAS president, said in the statement. “Ralph Cicerone was a model for all of us of not only doing what counts, but doing it with honesty, integrity, and deep passion.”

Cicerone’s specific achievements include the launch of the Gulf Research Program following the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the restoration and renovation of the historic NAS building in Washington, DC. In his own field, Cicerone’s work helped define the causes and consequences of global climate change. In 2011, for example, he oversaw the creation of a set of reports that called for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, among other strategies to slow the manmade effects of our changing climate.

“He was one of the true pioneers in showing how human activities are damaging our air,” Cicerone’s friend and colleague Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told The Washington Post. And then “he did something about it,” Ramanathan added—“he worked with policymakers.”

Even outside of his own area of expertise, Cicerone was active in discussions on the ethical and societal implications of new scientific technologies, most recently, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. Last year, he helped organize the International Human Gene Editing Summit to discuss the use of CRISPR and other precision gene editors in human somatic cells as well as in the germline.

“Ralph was a very, very steadying presence within the science community, trying to keep scientists on track, saying everything has to be sticking to the facts,” McNutt told The Washington Post. “It was so important to have a leader like that during these very contentious times.”

Cicerone is survived by his wife, Carol, one daughter, and two grandchildren. 

January 2019

Cannabis on Board

Research suggests ill effects of cannabinoids in the womb


Sponsored Product Updates

WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
INTEGRA Biosciences is offering labs the chance to win a VIAFLO 96/384 pipette. Designed to simplify plate replication, plate reformatting or reservoir-to-plate transfers, the VIAFLO 96/384 allows labs without the space or budget for an expensive pipetting robot to increase the speed and throughput of routine tasks.
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX has announced that their digital PCR assets, including the CONSTELLATION® series of instruments, is being acquired by QIAGEN N.V. (NYSE: QGEN, Frankfurt Stock Exchange: QIA) for up to $260 million ($125 million upfront payment and $135 million of milestones).  QIAGEN has announced plans for a global launch in 2020 of a new series of digital PCR platforms that utilize the advanced dPCR technology developed by FORMULATRIX combined with QIAGEN’s expertise in assay development and automation.
Application of CRISPR/Cas to the Generation of Genetically Engineered Mice
Application of CRISPR/Cas to the Generation of Genetically Engineered Mice
With this application note from Taconic, learn about the power that the CRISPR/Cas system has to revolutionize the field of custom mouse model generation!
Translational Models of Obesity, Dysmetabolism, Diabetes, and Complications
Translational Models of Obesity, Dysmetabolism, Diabetes, and Complications
This webinar, from Crown Bioscience, presents a unique continuum of translational dysmetabolic platforms that more closely mimic human disease. Learn about using next-generation rodent and spontaneously diabetic non-human primate models to accurately model human-relevant disease progression and complications related to obesity and diabetes here!