In Memory of Jean-Claude Bradley

14 May

My friend Jean-Claude Bradley was a dreamer. To lose him is a nightmare, a tragedy ….

My friend JC Bradley - leader, evangelist and practitioner of Open the max.

My friend JC Bradley – leader, evangelist and practitioner of Open Science…to the max.

When I received the sad news that JC had passed I went into the sad, dark place that losing family and friends sends me. And I went there fast. As we age we all need to face the challenge of increasing loss around is inevitable. And in recent years it is with increasing frequency. In two weeks time I turn fifty years old and for sure I am more conscious of my time on this planet than ever. My priorities have shifted over the years to more balance between life and work, WAY more quality time with the people I love and especially to my twin boys (while they still want me around!) and yet I am still driven to leave my mark in my domain of science. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to glorious…but I would like it to be catalytic and, hopefully, important. And someone pointing at it with a “Tony was involved with that”…will make me happy. Likely for less than a generation…but nevertheless. We should all be pointing at JC and LISTING the “JC was involved with that…”. I believe it would make him happy.

JC Bradley did something important. He did something catalytic. Actually he did a lot that was important and catalytic. And even though he has gone he will not be forgotten by his peers, his collaborators and his followers for a long time. And I believe his legacy will survive and flourish. JC was, for me, and many others, the father of Open Notebook Science. Fortunately he is remembered in this way on Wikipedia as coining the term.

I first met JC as a PhD student while I was at Ottawa University. I used to run 2D NMR for him in the days when walk-up 2DNMR wasn’t available….300MHz XL-300 Varian instrument. The good old days. We used to spread out spectra on the floor of my apartment and assigned data. Many a long night. Even then it was clear JC was a character…an interesting character. Driven. Focused. Serious..about his science. With a laugh for all the right reasons.

I lost track of JC until he got to Drexel but since we reconnected we have spent many, many long hours on phone calls, worked on many projects together for the sake of Open Science, and I have sat and laughed and visited the many trials and tribulations of openness with JC and people including Cameron Neylon, Andy Lang and many others. JC was driven, he was humble, he was a doer. He challenged the status quo with the spirit of a change agent but without the arrogance and brutality of some in the world of openness in chemistry.

I am not going to belabor the contributions he has made to Open Science. Many others will do that in the next few days. I will do it in presentations and in my writings for sure. His legacy will live on. For now I am going to grieve the loss of an evangelist, a driven practitioner in the world of Open Science, a humble man and my friend.

He traveled the world of Second Life while here  and wherever he is now, and I am making no judgments of peoples views of where that might be, I hope Horace Moody, the cat JC was in Second Life, is purring somewhere. In my head he is smiling, he is purring and he is proud. He should be. As Mays tells us….it is a calamity not to dream…and JC did….

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.” -Benjamin E. Mays (American educator, Clergyman, 1895-1984)-


About tony

Founder of ChemZoo Inc., the host of ChemSpider ( ChemSpider is an open access online database of chemical structures and property transaction based services to enable chemists around the world to data mine chemistry databases. The Royal Society of Chemistry acquired ChemSpider in May 2009. Presently working as a consortium member of the OpenPHACTS IMI project ( This focuses on how drug discovery can utilize semantic technologies to improve decision making and brings together 22 European team members to develop an infrastructure to link together public and private data for the drug discovery community. I am also involved with the PharmaSea FP7 project ( trying to identify new classes of marine natural products with potential pharmacological activity. I am also one of the hosts for three wikis for Science: ScientistsDB, SciMobileApps and SciDBs. Over the past decade I held many responsibilities including the direction of the development of scientific software applications for spectroscopy and general chemistry, directing marketing efforts, sales and business development collaborations for the company. Eight years experience of analytical laboratory leadership and management. Experienced in experimental techniques, implementation of new NMR technologies, walk-up facility management, research and development, manufacturing support and teaching. Ability to provide situation analysis, creative solutions and establish good working relationships. Prolific author with over a 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 3 patents and over 300 public presentations. Specialties Leadership in the domain of free access Chemistry, Product and project management, Organizational and Leadership development, Competitive analysis and Business Development, Entrepreneurial.

15 Responses to In Memory of Jean-Claude Bradley

  1. Sean Ekins

    May 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Thank you Tony for a beautiful remembrance. My memories of JC are far too brief but he went out of his way to offer ideas. He was a real pleasure to talk too and when asked if he would contribute to a project it was always on the condition that it was free, open and accessible to others. I think he was a pioneer, years ahead as an educator, a liberator of science and advocate for collaborations.
    I wished I could have told him how much of an influence he has had. Perhaps we need to remember him by thanking those around us that have impacted our thinking, careers, and made us what we are.

  2. Chemjobber

    May 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Very sorry for your loss.

  3. DrZZ

    May 16, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Does anyone know of any memorials and/or charities suggested for donations in his memory?

    • Shanthi Bradley

      May 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Hello All:

      Just wanted to briefly mention that I will be setting up something like a charity and make arrangements for his blogs to be taken over, as he loved his work very much and he cared immensely for his students. His work was his life. I’ll keep you posted ASAP as I am trying to go through this. Thank you all for your condolences.

      Shanthi Bradley

      • Andrew Lang

        May 19, 2014 at 10:59 am

        Hi Shanthi. Please feel free to contact me. asidlang(at)gmail(dot)com Andy

  4. Tony Yuan

    May 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Just returned from oversea travel, and completely shocked by this news. Very sorry losing another big player in our field.

  5. Joe Salvino

    May 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I just heard about JC and extend my deepest sympathies. What a great guy and to leave us at such an early age. It’s very sad.

  6. Jenn Stringer

    May 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    JC was a part of the Frye Leadership class of 2006. We just heard the news and we are filled with sadness.

    We would like to find a place to donate to memorialize him. We were unable to find anymore information about that. Can someone please let me know? email is


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