James Peter Taylor | 1979 - 2020
Good ideas don’t have owners—they belong to everyone (@jxtx)
Here are some excerpts from the numerous memorials to James on the web.
Johns Hopkins Department of Biology
Professor Taylor was a trailblazer in computational biology and genomics research. He had an enormous impact as a scientist, teacher, and colleague, and his loss is devastating to many – both here in our Hopkins community and around the globe.
Vince Hilser, chair of the biology department, describes Professor Taylor as a bedrock of the department. “He came in 2014, and it was transformational. He was this catalyst for change, with a huge positive impact.” His presence in the department opened up many areas for research, as he was able to help other faculty members uncover new insights by revealing similarities between the proteins they were studying and those in other organisms.
We in the Bioconductor community knew James as a Galaxy project leader, a strong advocate for open and reproducible science, and an enthusiastic and inspirational colleague. James recognized Bioconductor as a kindred spirit, and bridged the relationship between Galaxy and Bioconductor through his leadership of the NHGRI AnVIL project. James' leadership has deep consequences for the way Bioconductor now navigates toward large-scale cloud-based computing.
James' work and personality touched many of us, and we share a deep sense of loss from his passing. On behalf of the Bioconductor community, we offer our deepest condolences to James’ family, friends, trainees, and colleagues.
The Open Bioinformatics Foundation was shocked and saddened to learn that our colleague and collaborator James Taylor, a professor of biology and computer science at Johns Hopkins University, died on April 2, 2020. James was one of the creators and PIs of the Galaxy Project, which is among the most widely used platforms in open bioinformatics.
OBF joins many others in mourning the loss of a pillar of the bioinformatics community.
When I’m writing this I’m cautious of not exaggerating. I gave up on that. James made an enormous impact in the bioinformatics community. With Galaxy, he co-founded a platform that enabled many thousands of researchers to do reproducible analysis. Much of what I’m doing now, builds on his legacy. But even more importantly, his vision on Open Science touched many more people, most of them will never be aware of it. It fits his generosity.
James, you wanted Galaxy to belong to its Community, not just to the founders. This reflects your style of leadership, and the Community is in a good shape to face the future because of it. But having to write this now wasn’t part of the deal. I expected and looked forward to keep on working with you throughout my career.
We’ll find a way forward with the Galaxy Community. I’m not sure how yet, but I do know we’ll often refer back to you. And with time, the sorrow will dampen and we’ll think fondly back, glad to have known you.
If we could talk with him one last time, we would say: Thank you, James, on behalf of your community, for being a friend, a leader, a colleague, a mentor, a student, a scientist, a programmer, and an advocate. Thank you for embracing your bioinformatics community and sharing resources in the spirit of accessibility and scientific progress. Thank you for sharing your strengths in selfless ways and for dedicating your life’s work to further scientific research in genomics and beyond. Thank you for caring, participating, and leading the way. You leave behind many teams and communities, many people who worked on the things that you started, and many who thought that they would have more time to work with you on projects and reach new scientific heights. Please know that we will go forward and continue what you started, keeping you close, building on your work, and expanding on the many foundations that you provided. We will try to be better friends, leaders, colleagues, mentors, students, scientists, and advocates for each other, because we know, through your work and your many examples, that this is what you wanted us to do.