Author Archive

Posted 8/17/11 by . Filed under Uncategorized.

I would like to bring to your attention three recent publications in Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (JIMB) and one by JIMB Senior Editor Erick Vandamme in another report that I believe will be of interest to a broad spectrum of SIM members, JIMB readers and the industrial microbiology/biotechnology community in general. The first two are recent reviews published in JIMB dealing with our old friends the actinomycetes, their manipulation for strain improvement and natural products. The third is a review on current uses of continuous culture techniques. The fourth is a major “Position Paper” on biomass and its uses recently published by the Belgian Royal Academy of Science and the Arts , Class of Technical Sciences. These reports are all “state of the art”; I think you will enjoy all four.

The first review is, “Current approaches to exploit actinomycetes as a source of novel natural products” by O. Genilloud, I. Gonzalez, O. Salazar, J. Martin, J.R. Tormo and F. Vicente. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2011) 38#3: 375-389.

The second review is, “Strain improvement in actinomycetes in the postgenomic era” by Senior Editor Richard H. Baltz. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2011) 38#6:657-666.

The third review is, “The renaissance of continuous culture in the post-genomic age” by Senior Editor Alan T. Bull. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2010) 37#10:993-1021.

The fourth paper by Erick J. Vandamme, Chief Author and Editor, is a major “Position paper ” on biomass and its uses recently published by the Belgian Royal Academy of Science and the Arts , Class of Technical Sciences, BACAS, ( ), titled ” Industrial Biomass: Source of Chemicals, Materials and Energy !”. Vandamme, Erick J., T. Anthonis, S. Dobbelaere, et al., February 2011, p.40: KVAB D/2011/0455/02 ISBN 978906569077 Although this report is Euro-centric it should be of great interest to all working in the areas of renewable fuels and chemicals. Erick Vandamme is also a Senior Editor for JIMB.

Robert (Bob) D. Schwartz
Editor-in-Chief, JIMB

Posted 8/9/11 by . Filed under Featured News, Uncategorized.

As discussed at previous Board of Directors and Senior Editors meetings, in August 2010 our citation index had fallen to an IF of 1.798 and we were listed as 81/150. In 2009 we were at 1.919 and 72/144. To remedy this problem the Senior Editors:

  • • endorsed adding more reviews, particularly mini-reviews (done, mainly through the efforts of Dick Baltz, JIMB Reviews Editor);
  • • expanded our Senior Editor Board (we added four and now have 13 Senior Editors, representing seven countries, with expertise in areas where we were lacking and we are more international in structure);
  • • expanded our Editorial Board (we now have 86 members; members are more likely to submit their work to JIMB and provide more expert reviewers).

As a result of these efforts, the JIMB IF for 2010 has risen to 2.416 and we are number 63/164 journals. This represents 4326 citations. Perhaps more interesting, we are 63/164 —>38.4% of the top journals in our group. In 2009 we were 81/150 or 54% and in 2008, 72/144 or 50%. We are moving in the right direction and will continue to do so!

Summarizing the first six months of 2011 we processed 421 manuscripts, three of which came from 33rd Symposium on Fuels and Chemicals. This compares to 456 for the first six months of 2010, 44 of which came from the 32nd Symposium on Fuels and Chemicals. Thus, manuscript flow is similar to 2010. For 2011, of the 421 manuscripts action (accept, revise or reject) has been taken on 391: 59 (15.1%) have been accepted or are in revision; 332 (84.9%) have been rejected. Our rejection rate for 2010 was about 75%.  Again, we continue to move in the right direction as the quality of published manuscripts and reviews continue to improve.

Robert (Bob) D. Schwartz

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Posted 8/4/11 by . Filed under Featured News.

In June, Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ) donated its natural products library to the Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research (Doylestown, PA) along with a grant. The library is one of the more diverse in the world and consists of over 100,000 extracts. While I am not familiar with all the details of the arrangement, I do understand that the collection will be available to researchers around the world.

This should come as no surprise since the company stopped screening for natural product drugs a few years ago and shut down its discovery operation in Madrid (which exists independently as Fundacion MEDINA). Nevertheless, as a former Merck employee, it is like watching your childhood home get sold. At one point natural products were a big chunk of Merck’s revenue with Mevacor/Zocor being the flag-bearer.

Now it is up to several academic labs and small companies to keep “the dream alive.” Enabling technologies have advanced to the point that isolation and structural elucidation of natural products are no longer “warts.” While small research groups have done some wonderful things with natural products, they do not always have the biological targets to screen against that big pharma does.

I once read that natural product drugs were like aliens – you know they are out there but you just do not know where to find them. This could probably be said about drug discovery and development in general.

About Neal Connors
Dr. Neal Connors is currently the owner/president of Phoenix BioConsulting, LLC (; a company providing consulting services to the fermentation, industrial microbiology, biotechnology, and legal sectors.

Posted 7/21/11 by . Filed under News and Updates.

I read in Fierce Biotech’s April 6, 2011 e-newsletter that an FDA advisory committee has recommended approval of San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceutical’s fidaxomicin, a narrow spectrum antibacterial for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infections. C. difficile is responsible for 20% of antibiotic-associated diarrhea cases in hospitals.

Full FDA approval of a drug usually follows a positive review from its advisory committees. Approval of any new antibiotic is welcome news given the increase in resistant pathogens. However as a natural product “geek”, I was thrilled to learn that fidaxomicin is a natural product produced by fermentation of Dactylosporangium aurantiacum subspecies hamdenesis.