Sheldon Krimsky, an ethicist who warned about conflicts of interest when private companies fund academic research, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 80.
According to the Times, Krimsky became interested in that area of study in the late 1970s after he learned that chemical company W.R. Grace pressured Tufts University, where he was a professor, to suppress a study he and his students conducted on contaminated drinking wells and fire him. The Times adds Krimsky's work focused on whether universities accepting funding from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies affected their independence and reliability.
He additionally studied other ethical quandaries that arise in science, such as ones surrounding stem-cell research, genetically modified food, and genetic privacy. Jonathan Garlick, a stem-cell researcher at Tufts, compared Krimsky at the Times to the consumer advocate Ralph Nader, but instead for bioethics.
"Shelly never gave up hope of a better world, whether it was his work on risk perception, abuses of corporation-funded research, hormones, GMOs, or DNA," Tufts' Julian Agyeman adds in a statement. "He was the consummate activist-advocate-scholar."