Dan Koshland was the editor of Science when I first on board in 1991. In my opinion, he brought considerable discredit to the journal by engaging, together with Phil Abelson, in a clearly politically motivated attempt to discredit all research pointing to environmental causes of cancer. On the positive side, he was instrumental in making Science more international and less USA-centric, both in the papers it publishes and in its news coverage.


July 28, 2007

Daniel Koshland Jr., Scientist and Editor, Dies at 87


Daniel E. Koshland Jr., a biochemist and philanthropist who brought an unexpectedly puckish tone to Science, the international weekly journal of research that he edited in the 1980s and '90s, died Monday in Walnut Creek, Calif. He was 87 and lived in nearby Lafayette, outside Berkeley.

The cause was a stroke, his family said.

From 1985 to 1995, Dr. Koshland shuttled monthly between Science's editorial offices in Washington and the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a professor of molecular and cell biology.

At Science, he helped chronicle innovative developments in medicine, chemistry, neuroscience and other fields. He expanded the magazine's coverage of science news, increased the size of its editorial staff and opened an international bureau in Cambridge, England.

In editorials that he wrote, he also wrestled with ethical questions facing scientists and inequities in the federal financing of research projects, which he believed had been skewed against smaller-scale and more daring experiments often performed by younger investigators.

In some of his lighter writings for Science, Dr. Koshland adopted the alter ego of Dr. Noitall, a bumptious senior scientist who seemed quite literally to know it all. In a satirical essay published in 1995, Dr. Noitall demanded immediate measures to regulate jogging, dieting and the making of New Year's resolutions.

"People are constrained from smoking, from unsafe sex, from failing to buckle seat belts," Dr. Koshland wrote. "Why not prevent overblown fantasies of self-improvement that frequently aren't implemented?"

At Berkeley in the 1980s, Dr. Koshland led an effort to organize the teaching of biological sciences by grouping a dozen related departments into three broad categories. A decade-long plan was adopted, including the construction of two new buildings and the renovation of a third, to house the newly formed departments of plant biology, integrated biology, and molecular and cell biology.

A colleague, Robert T. Tjian, a professor of molecular and cell biology at Berkeley, said a result had been a conservation of resources and "a greater ease in recruiting faculty and graduate students."

In his own research, Dr. Koshland studied the function of enzymes in the body and their role in synthesizing proteins. Collaborating with other scientists, he observed that enzymes can change their shape as they interact with different molecules, an effect they termed "induced fit."

He later studied bacteria and made observations of their ability to sense chemicals and even to remember them, in a display of rudimentary memory for environmental change. In the 1990s, he and others looked at brain cells and used the brain chemical serotonin to test two cell lines for retention and loss of memory.

The son of a former president of Levi Strauss and the nephew of another executive at the company, Dr. Koshland used his considerable inherited fortune to support science education. In 2004, he gave $25 million to found a science museum at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. The museum is named for Dr. Koshland's first wife, Marian Elliott Koshland, an immunologist at Berkeley, who died in 1997.

In an earlier gift, he donated about $23 million to Haverford College in Pennsylvania to help build a new science center, which is also named for Marian Koshland.

Daniel Edward Koshland Jr. was born in Manhattan. He earned his undergraduate degree at Berkeley, then moved to the University of Chicago, where he received a doctorate in organic chemistry in 1949.

From 1951 to 1965, he conducted research at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where he was a senior biochemist. He then became a professor of biochemistry at Berkeley and remained there for the rest of his career. He was named a professor emeritus in 1992 and continued his research until he died.

Dr. Koshland received the National Medal of Science in 1990 and an Albert Lasker Award for special achievement in medical science in 1998.

He is survived by his wife, Yvonne; two sons, Douglas, of Baltimore, and James, of Atherton, Calif.; three daughters, Ellen, of Melbourne, Australia; Gail, of Tucson; and Phyllis, of Sydney, Australia, and Paris; two sisters, Phyllis Friedman of Hillsborough, Calif., and Francis Geballe of Woodside, Calif.; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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