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AAAS names chemist Holden Thorp as editor-in-chief of Science

Holden Thorp

Washington University

By Jeffrey Brainard

Holden Thorp, a chemist who held top leadership positions at two major U.S. research universities, was named today as the next editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals. He succeeds biologist Jeremy Berg, who had held the job since 2016 and is returning to a research post at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Thorp, 55, was provost at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, from July 2013 until July; he held faculty appointments there in both chemistry and medicine. His priorities during that period included supporting interdisciplinary research and entrepreneurship and promoting diversity among faculty members and undergraduate students.

Before that, he spent 3 decades at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he served as chancellor from 2008 through 2013, after beginning his scientific studies at the institution as an undergraduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1989 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and completed postdoctoral work at Yale University. His research focus has ranged widely, from physical inorganic chemistry early in his career to drug development more recently. Thorp developed technology for electronic DNA chips and co-founded two pharmaceutical companies, which are commercializing new drugs for fungal disease and prostate cancer.

“I think both the news side and the research side [of Science] are national treasures,” Thorp tells ScienceInsider, “and it’s an extraordinary honor to be asked to steward these resources for the country and the world.”

He said he wants to continue the focus of previous Science editors on ensuring the reproducibility of published science and encouraging manuscripts from a wide range of authors, including those outside top-rated universities. He is moving to Washington, D.C.—where the headquarters of AAAS, which publishes Science, is located—to take the position full time. (Science’s news division, which prepared this article, is editorially independent of AAAS.)

 “Holden is a terrific choice for the new editor-in-chief,” said Margaret Hamburg, chair of the board of directors of AAAS and the search committee that selected Thorp. “Widely recognized for inspiring and wise leadership, he is also known for his ability to work across scientific disciplines, his open, collaborative work style and his integrity and objectivity,” said Hamburg, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a statement. “At a time when both the landscapes of science and scientific publishing are changing rapidly, Holden combines the necessary scientific strength and breadth with a deep expertise and commitment to advancing science and science communication.”

Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed, general science journal in the world. AAAS has recently expanded its publishing efforts with journals such as the open-access Science Advances and the most recent publications to launch, Science Robotics and Science Immunology.

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Source: Science Mag