News Releases

Christopher Walsh, esteemed Ludwig scientific advisor, passes away at age 79

FEBRUARY 7, 2023, NEW YORK – It is with great sadness that we share news of the recent death of Christopher Walsh, who served from 2011 to 2016 as a scientific advisor to the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

“This is a profound loss, not only to the many people who knew and cared for Chris, but to the fields of science and medicine,” said Ludwig Institute President and CEO Edward McDermott. “A scientist to the core, Chris was a highly-valued member of Ludwig’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and we are grateful to him for service. On behalf of the Ludwig community, I offer my deepest condolences to his family.”

An enzymologist of considerable renown, Walsh was also famed for his research on antibiotics, especially his elucidation of the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. He was among the founders of the field of chemical biology and the author of more than 800 scientific articles and 10 books, including Enzymatic Reaction Mechanisms, a classic of his field of expertise.

Walsh demonstrated his scientific acumen at an early age. Working with the legendary biologist E.O. Wilson and John Law as an undergraduate researcher at Harvard College, he identified the pheromone with which fire ants mark their scent trails, publishing his discovery in a July 1965 issue of Nature. He went on to earn a PhD at Rockefeller University and then pursued his passion for enzymology as a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University. Joining MIT in 1972, Walsh rose to become chair the Department of Chemistry there before moving to Harvard Medical School as the founding chair of the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in 1987. He served from 1992-95 as president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before returning to full time research. Walsh was the Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School at the time of his death on January 10, 2023.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry published Walsh’s reflections on his remarkable scientific career in 2010. The article can be freely accessed here.


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