Talk Title: The life and times of an industrial microbial geneticist: engineering actinomycetes and other subjects


Richard H. Baltz received a B.S. degree in Microbiology from The Ohio State University in 1966 and Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1971. After completing Postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois, he joined Eli Lilly and Company in 1974. At Lilly, he worked on projects directed at genetic manipulation of secondary metabolite production in actinomycetes, and expression of human peptides in Escherichia coli and other microorganisms. He established and led the molecular genetics department in the 1980s, and helped establish Lilly as a world leader in genetic engineering of industrial actinomycetes. His group developed many molecular genetic tools in common use today, and were the first to generate novel macrolide, glycopeptide and beta-lactam antibiotics by genetic engineering. He retired from Lilly in 1998, and founded CognoGen Biotechnology Consulting. He consulted for several biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and agrichemical companies, then joined Cubist Pharmaceuticals in 2001 to help launch daptomycin, and to head the Natural Products group. His group at Cubist developed genetic engineering methods to generate many novel derivatives of daptomycin. He retired from Cubist in 2009, reactivated CognoGen, and currently consults for several companies. He serves on academic and biotechnology company Scientific Advisory Boards, and is Senior Editor for Reviews for the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, and Section Editor for the Journal of Antibiotics. He is past president and a fellow of SIMB. He has presented his work in over 250 publications, book chapters, and abstracts, and has 38 issued US patents.