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Daniel E. Koshland Jr., Former Editor-in-Chief of Science, Dies at Age 87
Daniel E. Koshland Jr.
[Photo credit: Robert Holmgren;
image courtesy of UC Berkeley]
AAAS and Science mourn the death of Daniel E. Koshland Jr., who achieved a far-reaching impact on the global science enterprise as a prize-winning biochemist, the editor of Science, and mentor to generations of scientists and science journalists who studied or worked under his direction. He died Monday at the age of 87.
On learning of the loss, colleagues remembered him as a man of infectious enthusiasm and optimism who guided Science through a period of modernization that set new standards across its operations and helped extend its position as the world's leading journal of scientific news and research.
During his tenure as editor-in-chief from 1985-1995, "Dr. Koshland implemented truly ground-breaking improvements to the peer-review process, editorial content, technology-based production, staffing, and more," said Science Executive Editor Monica Bradford. "All of those developments helped to solidify the journal's place as one of the most prestigious scholarly publications in the world. We are deeply saddened by his death, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family."
"He was a genuinely warm and caring person who encouraged people at all levels of the organization to have passion about their works and lives," said Science Publisher Beth Rosner. "He inspired us all."
Koshland was born in New York City, but his family later moved West. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1941 at the University of California-Berkeley. During World War II, he led a group working to purify plutonium as part of the Manhattan Project, which developed the world's first nuclear weapon. He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1949. After working at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Rockefeller University, he returned to Berkeley in 1965 to head the Department of Biochemistry and on the Chancellor's Advisory Council on Biology.
Kostland published more than 400 papers, "an output that continued unabated in recent years," says a story published on the ScienceNOW Web site and set to appear in the journal's 27 July issue. "His fundamental insight that proteins change shape as they interact with other molecules—the 'induced fit' theory—changed the way scientists perceived a range of processes, from the catalytic power of enzymes to the action of hormones," the story says.
"Dan Koshland was a rare bird," Joseph L. Goldstein, a Nobel laureate and professor of molecular genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, told the University of California Office of Media Relations. "His career in science was exemplified by a distinction achieved by only a handful of scientists who are held in universally high esteem by their colleagues because of their human qualities of honesty, kindness, unselfishness, originality and wisdom. And in Dan's case, there was also wit."
He joined Science in 1985, early in a transitional period for science, technology and S&T journalism. In interviews, colleagues at every level of the journal recalled both his scientific accomplishment and his generosity.
"As a grateful successor, I find traces of Dan's thoughtful influence everywhere at Science," said Donald Kennedy, the current editor-in-chief. "Dan has been my colleague in planning the [Marian] Koshland Museum at the National Academy—a jewel that results from a generous gift to honor his late wife, Bunny. It is difficult to lose a hero and a friend in the same person."
"Dan Koshland was an extremely wise and creative scientist and brought those skills to the editorship of Science with eloquence, excellent humor and high-minded independence," said past AAAS President Floyd Bloom, who succeeded Koshland as the journal's editor-in-chief from 1995-2000. "I will miss him."
Those who worked under Koshland's direction at Science recalled a man of broad and often restless interests, who mixed sincere personal interest with a sometimes provocative editorial style.
"For AAAS and Science, he saw the importance of changes happening in the fields of molecular biology and biology, and he made sure that Science was a significant player in publishing research in those fields," Bradford recalled. "He also improved peer review by adding a "triage" level, an approach that was later imitated by other in the scholarly publishing field."
In addition, colleagues said, he increased the emphasis on physical sciences; inaugurated the journal's Perspectives section; and started Science International in Cambridge, U.K.; and he started the "Molecule of the Year," known now as "Breakthrough of the Year."
"He changed the whole magazine when he took over," said Barbara Jasny, a deputy editor for Science. "When he first arrived, we were using differently colored cards that we would stick up on a poster board to keep track of papers. Today, we have a very sophisticated manuscript tracking database. Many of the modernizations now in place at Science got their start from Dan Koshland."
Koshland's own early work on "induced fit" theory had met a mixed response, and in his work at Science, he maintained a strong conviction that important research is often controversial—but worth the editors' efforts.
"He would advocate for some papers that perhaps struggled through review at first if he truly believed that they described pioneering research," Bradford explained. "He was proud of recognizing ground-breaking papers."
"He was very good at recognizing quality," added Barbra Jasny, deputy editor of Science. "He wanted to recruit the best papers, and the best people possible."
And if those researchers might be on the fence about sending their work to Science, "Dan would call them up and say, 'You will submit your paper to Science!'" recalled Phil Szuromi, the journal's supervisory senior editor.
His outspoken "Dr. Noitall" editorials often provoked strong responses, too, such as when he lambasted postal authorities for slow magazine-delivery times, thereby prompting a rapid response and improved service to subscribers, Szuromi said.
He brought the same passion and persuasive charm to many of his dealings with the staff, as well. He loved discussion and debate, colleagues recounted, and sometimes brought staffers from different sections and different levels together just to talk.
"When he would come to visit, if things were too quiet, he would grab someone to get ideas going—if everyone was looking too self-satisfied, he would deliberately shake it up, to get new ideas into play," Jasny said.
"He had an infectious enthusiasm for science, both big S and with little s," added Bryan Ray, a senior editor for Science and founding editor of the journal's Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment (STKE). "You just couldn't be around him for very long without feeling inspired by him."
Among the honors Koshland won through his career were the U.S. National Medal of Science; the Edgar Fahs Smith and Pauling Awards of the American Chemical Society; the Rosenstiel Award of Brandeis University; the Waterford Prize; and the Merck Award of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science in 1998.
On winning the Lasker, Koshland was interviewed by The Berkeleyan, a newspaper for faculty and staff at the University of California, and he reflected on his tenure at Science. "I loved it," he said simply. "I did it for 10 years and I enjoyed every minute of it."
Koshland was married for 52 years to his wife, Marian. Following her death, he in 2000 married Yvonne Cyr San Jule, who had been a classmate in an undergraduate bacteriology class. They made their home in Lafayette, Calif.
He is survived by Yvonne Koshland; sons James Koshland of Atherton, Calif., and Douglas Koshland of Baltimore, Md.; daughters Ellen Koshland of Melbourne, Australia, Phyllis (Phlyp) Koshland of Paris, France, and Gail Koshland of Tucson, Ariz.; and sisters Francis K. Geballe of Woodside, Calif., and Phyllis K. Friedman of Hillsborough, Calif. He also is survived by nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, in addition to three step-children—Elodie Keene, Philip Keene and Tamsen Calhoon—12 step-grandchildren and 17 step-great-grandchildren.
Donations in Koshland's memory can be made to the Marian Koshland Science Museum, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001, or to the UC Berkeley Foundation to support bioscience and energy teaching and research. Write to the UC Berkeley Foundation, Attention: Vice Chancellor-University Relations, 2080 Addison Street, #4200, Berkeley, CA 94720-4200.
Remembrances of Dr. Koshland's former colleagues at Science will be posted online. Initial coverage will be included in the Friday 27 July edition of Science, with a more detailed retrospective piece planned for the 10 August issue.
Ginger Pinholster and Edward W. Lempinen
24 July 2007