A noted biochemist, Walsh had an enormous impact on academic research, drug discovery and the biopharmaceutical field.

Scripps Research mourns the loss of Christopher Walsh, PhD, a longtime advisor to the institute and a former member of its Board of Directors. He was 79 years old.

Walsh first served on the board of Calibr, a nonprofit drug discovery and development institute, which was founded by Scripps Research President and CEO Pete Schultz, PhD, in 2012 and merged with Scripps Research in 2018. Walsh then served on the Scripps Research Board of Directors from 2017 to 2022.

“Chris contributed critical insights across the spectrum of our activities—from academic research to drug discovery and biopharma partnerships,” says Schultz, who completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Walsh. “He played a major role in helping create the vision we have for the institute today.”

Walsh began his career in 1972 as a professor of chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later became chairman of the Chemistry Department. In 1987, he joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School as the Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, a position he held for 26 years until taking emeritus status. At Harvard, he also chaired the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and served as president and CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Recognized as a world leader in biological chemistry, Walsh defined the mechanisms of novel enzymes, unraveled complex biosynthetic pathways and determined the mode of action of important antibiotics. He was regularly sought out for his exceptional scientific knowledge and experience by government and academic institutions, biotech companies and investor groups.

“Chris was a spectacular contributor in all he touched—so deeply thoughtful and constructive, while seeing around the corners of problems from scientific to organizational,” says Tom Daniel, MD, another Scripps Research board member.

Walsh authored more than 800 publications in scientific journals during his career, published major texts and received numerous awards, among them the prestigious Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry. He was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“Chris trained a remarkable number of graduate students and postdocs who are now continuing his scientific legacy,” says Schultz. “He was a giant in science.”