Bruce Alberts Named New Editor-in-Chief of Science

December 17, 2007

Bruce Alberts

Bruce Alberts, president emeritus of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council (1993-2005), has been named by the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to serve as editor-in-chief of its journal Science beginning 1 March 2008. Alberts, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, will become the 18th editor-in-chief of Science since its inception in 1880. "I view Science magazine as a critical venue for maintaining the standards of science as well as for spreading an understanding and appreciation for science around the world," Alberts said. "With the tremendous challenges we face today, both of these important aims need constant attention." AAAS President and Nobel laureate David Baltimore, the Robert A. Millikan professor of biology and president emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, applauded the selection of Alberts to lead Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any general science journal in the world. "I am overjoyed that Bruce will be the next editor-in-chief of Science," Baltimore said. "His experience, skill, and interest in all of science make him the ideal person to continue the tradition of superb editors who have made Science the premier journal for the scientific community." Alberts' appointment as the new Science editor-in-chief represents "a real coup," according to John P. Holdren, chair of the AAAS Board, who also is director of the Woods Hole Research Center, and Teresa and John Heinz professor of environmental policy at Harvard University. "Bruce has a wide-ranging intellect, tremendous energy, superb judgment, and a fine editorial hand," Holdren added. "He combines these assets with a deep belief in the importance of strengthening science and engineering in global society as a key to improving the human condition. In succeeding the extraordinary Donald Kennedy at the helm of Science, Bruce has big shoes to fill, but he has the talent, the stature, and the connections across the science, technology, and policy communities to do so with excellence, grace, and flair." Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of Science, noted that Alberts' acceptance of the editor-in-chief position will ensure the continuation of a long tradition of outstanding scientist-citizens in the role. "Dr. Alberts is very widely respected, has outstanding scientific credentials, and has held many distinguished leadership positions both within science and in its interface with the rest of society," Leshner said. "We are delighted and honored to welcome Dr. Alberts to lead Science, and we look forward to his further contributions to the scientific enterprise." Alberts will succeed Donald Kennedy, president emeritus of Stanford University and a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who assumed the Science editor-in-chief position 1 June 2000, and announced his retirement plans in June 2007. Kennedy will remain editor-in-chief of Science through the end of February 2008. To choose the new editor-in-chief, the AAAS Board of Directors formed a selection committee of top scientists, chaired by Baltimore. Following an international search, the AAAS Board unanimously agreed December 14 to invite Alberts to serve as editor-in-chief, and he accepted the post. Alberts, who earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1965, is well-known for his work in biochemistry and molecular biology, and in particular, for his extensive study of the protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated. He spent 10 years on the faculty of Princeton University, beginning in 1966, and then moved to the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, where he later became chair. Alberts has long been committed to the improvement of science education, dedicating much of his time to educational issues. He is one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a leading textbook whose 5th edition was published in 2007. A second textbook, Essential Cell Biology (2003), presents this subject matter for a wider audience. Since 2000 and until 2009, Alberts will serve as co-chair of the InterAcademy Council, a new advisory institution in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of the science academies of 15 different nations. He also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York as well as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. His six-year term as an overseer of Harvard University ended in June. For the year 2007, he has served as the president of the American Society of Cell Biology. Founded in 1880 by Thomas A. Edison, Science has been the official journal of the non-profit AAAS since 1900. In its early days, the journal was best known for physical sciences research, from wireless telegraphy to new chemical elements and early reports of the Wright brothers' flying experiments. Since then, the journal has published many important biological breakthroughs, too, such as the discovery that brought Mendel's laws of heredity to light, and the historic sequencing of the human genome. Each week, an estimated 1 million people worldwide read the journal at home, and in libraries, schools, and research institutions. Alberts will oversee both the journal's staff of Ph.D.-level editors, directed by Executive Editor Monica Bradford, and Science's award-winning team of science journalists, headed by long-time News Editor Colin Norman. The journal's editors and news reporters work in Washington, D.C., Cambridge, U.K., and other locations worldwide, from China and Japan to Europe and Africa. Science has so far had 17 editors-in-chief, including Kennedy (1 June 2000-1 March 2008); Floyd E. Bloom (1995-2000); Daniel E. Koshland Jr. (1985-1995); and the late Philip Hauge Abelson (1962-1984). When Kennedy was named editor-in-chief of Science by the AAAS Board of Directors in November 1999, he was described by former Board Chair M.R.C. Greenwood as having "a broad understanding of current science issues, a wealth of experience in government and university, and incomparable insight." During his tenure with Science, Kennedy provided "superb leadership" and "set the bar very high," Leshner said. Related Links: Science Advancing Science, Serving Society EurekAlert!