Joshua Lederberg is an American molecular biologist who is known for his work in genetics, artificial intelligence, and space exploration. He was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in 1958 for his research in genetic structure and function in microorganisms.
In addition to his contributions to biology, Lederberg did extensive research in artificial intelligence. This included work in the NASA experimental programs seeking life on Mars and the chemistry expert system Dendral.
With the launching of Sputnik in 1957, Lederberg became concerned about the biological impact of space exploration.
Throughout his career, Lederberg was active as a scientific advisor to the U.S. government. Starting in 1950, he has been a member of various panels of the Presidential Science Advisory Committee. In 1979, he became a member of the U.S. Defense Science Board and the chairman of President Jimmy Carter’s President’s Cancer Panel. In 1989, he received National Medal of Science for his contributions to the scientific world. In 1994, he headed the Department of Defense’s Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects, which investigated Gulf War Syndrome. In 2006, Lederberg was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.