Obituary: Andrew D. Robertson

Andy Robertson served as scientific coordinator of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training 2011–12. PHOTO: EMBL Photolab

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Andrew (Andy) D. Robertson, who served as the scientific coordinator of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training between 2011–12, sadly passed away in Portland, Oregon on 14 August, at the age of 55. Andy began his career as a researcher, before instinctively following his passion for helping scientists to connect and collaborate; directing world-leading course and conference programmes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Andy grew up in Manhattan Beach, southern California. He received a degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1982 and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1988. Quickly recognised as an exceptional talent, in 1988 he moved to Stanford for a postdoc studying RNase unfolding, before being appointed as an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Iowa in 1991. Here, he stayed for 13 productive years, and was promoted to full professor along the way.

Characteristically, Andy carved his own path – in 2004 he embarked on a career change to become a medical writer for Merck. The move paid off, providing a bridge to what he described as his “dream job” as chief scientific officer of the Keystone Symposia in Colorado. Six highly successful years passed and, when it came to his next career move, his creativity, diverse research background, and broad experience made him a great addition to the management team at the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training (EICAT). In his role as EMBL’s scientific coordinator within EICAT, Andy took care of EMBL’s external training activities, especially the Course and Conference Programme and the Visitor Programme. His open mind and excellent interpersonal skills ensured he connected quickly with many colleagues at all EMBL sites.

He genuinely believed that science could make the world a better place

Most recently, Andy was working as chief scientific and medical officer at the National Psoriasis Foundation in Portland, where he oversaw the research and medical programmes. He genuinely believed that science could make the world a better place, and issues such as inclusion, diversity and patient participation in research were ingrained in his work, as well as being very close to his heart.

Andy was an approachable and kind mentor to many and had a wide range of interests, including a love of the great outdoors and a talent for playing the violin. His energy, positivity, and wonderful sense of humour have influenced countless people and he will be very sorely missed.

Andy is survived by his wife, Sue, and daughters, Kelly and Sarah.