Born in Salem, Oregon, on 17 July 1978, Nick Dusic made the UK his home after taking up a master’s in environment, science and society at University College London in 2001.
His career in science policy began with an internship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, where he quickly moved through a number of roles before becoming science policy manager at the British Ecological Society in 2004. Already displaying a flair for representing science to government, he was said to be a natural, albeit young, choice to become director of CaSE in December 2007.
Mr Dusic led CaSE’s growth into “a more clearly defined, financially stable and influential organisation”, said Hilary Leevers, head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust and assistant director at CaSE from 2007 to 2011.
His orchestration of the Science Vote campaign in the run-up to the 2010 general election placed science firmly on the agenda, she said, and provided the base for later high-profile campaigning that was widely credited with helping research to achieve a better than predicted settlement in the subsequent spending review.
In 2010, Mr Dusic left CaSE to become director of public affairs – global sites (Europe) at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Two years later he returned to the US to become Pfizer’s director for medical and research and development external affairs, based in New York. Despite jokes with his peers over his move to the corporate world, he remained a stalwart presence in science policy, reflecting the fact that former colleagues and contacts had by then become firm friends.
His talent lay in the conviction, intelligence and passion behind his advocacy, which built trust across all parties, Dr Leevers said.
Tributes to Mr Dusic poured in via Twitter from senior figures including Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who called him “highly talented”. Others said simply that he left UK science and engineering a better place.
Beyond his many professional talents, Mr Dusic was a man with a warm and natural manner and an infectious laugh, who was welcoming to all. Dr Leevers observed that his “easy wit spotted unexpected humour in even the driest of science policy – from badgers to the Haldane principle”.
Imran Khan, Mr Dusic’s successor at CaSE and now chief executive of the British Science Association, summed up the loss, writing on Twitter: “My friend, the legend, Nick Dusic, has passed away. Lots of people in our funny little world will miss him terribly.”
Mr Dusic died of Burkitt’s lymphoma on 11 June.