Bruce Alberts will depart his post as editor-in-chief of the journal Science by March 2013, according to its publisher the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Alberts is professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, and became the eighteenth editor-in-chief of the journal in 2008. Five years is not an unusual tenure for Science’s chief editor.
Alberts oversaw the publication of dozens of high-impact research articles at Science. Most recently, he participated in global discussions about whether to publish controversial research that created a more transmissible form of the avian influenza virus H5N1. A paper from a team led by Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is now under consideration at Science (see ‘The Netherlands grants export licence for mutant flu work‘).
Together with Ahmed Zewail and Elias Zerhouni, Alberts has in recent years travelled to North Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia to foster scientific collaborations as part of the US Science Envoy Program, announced in 2009. Before joining the AAAS, he served as president of the US National Academy of Sciences from 1993 to 2005, where he promoted problem-solving skills and evidence-based learning by helping to develop national science-education standards for schools.
As editor-in-chief, Alberts replaced Donald Kennedy, a biologist involved in environmental policy who had served as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration and as the president of Stanford University in California before his 7-year term at Science. Neuroscientist Floyd Bloom held the position for 5 years (1995–2000) before that. Under Bloom’s leadership, the journal made the leap onto the World Wide Web. Other notable editors-in-chief include Dan Koshland, who between 1985 and 1995 revamped the peer-review process and helped to launch a Science office in Europe.
“Bruce has been a grand steward of Science magazine,” says Nobel laureate David Baltimore, a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and a former president of AAAS. “He brought his style to the magazine, by caring so much about education and international science. I’m sorry to hear that he’s leaving, but he’s given so much to American science that I can’t complain that he hasn’t done his job.”