In Memoriam: Joshua Lederberg (1925–2008)1

Abstract

tions lost a valuable friend and inspiring leader earlier this year with the death of Joshua Lederberg. The globally recognized scientist, educator, national and Presidential scientifi c advisor, and Nobel Laureate died of pneumonia on February 2, 2008, at the age of 82. Dr Lederberg’s early work on bacterial genetics virtually established the discipline of molecular biology, earning him a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1958, when he was only 33 years of age. His contributions paved the way toward understanding microbial adaptation, including the development of antimicrobial drug resistance and the implications of these evolutionary changes for clinical medicine and public health. Equally impressive are his public service contributions; he served as a science advisor to 9 US presidents. Dr Lederberg began his exploration of bacterial genetics as a doctoral student at Yale University, where he forged new paths and gained prominence in the developing fi eld. Over the next 30 years, he held academic posts and chaired new genetics departments at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. In 1978, he joined Rockefeller University as its president. Over the next 12 years, his accomplishments and successes in this position were a testimony to his scholarly accomplishments and leadership skills; he remained affi liated with the university for the rest of his life. He offered science policy advice not only to 9 US administrations but also to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense. In addition to the Nobel Prize, his numerous prestigious awards included the National Medal of Science in 1989 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. To those of us working in the fi eld of emerging infectious diseases, Dr Lederberg will be most remembered for his critical role in recognizing the threats posed by emerging and reemerging infections and their implications for public health and national security. He is well known to readers of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) as a contributor to the journal (1,2) and for his leadership as co-chair with the late Robert Shope (3) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health, which produced the 1992 report Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States (4) (Figure 1, panel A). This landmark report defi ned the concept of emerging and reemerging infections, identifi ed factors contributing to disease emergence and reemergence, and emphasized current and future challenges posed by infectious diseases. The report also highlighted defi ciencies in our nation’s public health infrastructure and made recommendations on the need to strengthen surveillance systems, address new

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Cite this paper

@article{Hughes2008InMJ, title={In Memoriam: Joshua Lederberg (1925–2008)1}, author={James Hughes and Dylan Drotman}, journal={Emerging Infectious Diseases}, year={2008}, volume={14}, pages={981 - 983} }